MADRID, August 30 – Spain World Cup star David Villa scored a fine debut goal as Spanish champions Barcelona began their title defence with a resounding 3-0 win at Racing Santander on Sunday.
Villa, 28, was the big summer signing, costing Barcelona 40 million euros from Valencia, and the forward showed why with a well-placed header on the hour for his first league goal in Barca’s colours.
Argentine Lionel Messi had opened the scoring on three minutes with a neat chip for his 131st club goal to surpass Brazilian great Rivaldo in Barca’s goalscoring hall of fame.
Andres Iniesta, scorer of Spain’s winning goal in the World Cup final, scored a sublime second with a side-footed volley before international team-mate Villa struck.
It could have been much more and sent out a warning to new Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who makes his bow at Real Mallorca later on Sunday.
Mourinho has been brought in to stop Barcelona from winning a third title and provide Madrid fans with the sparkling football on show at Barcelona.
Messi, recovering from a disappointing World Cup with Argentina, scored 34 league goals last season and continued where he left off, racing onto a fine pass from Iniesta before coolly chipping over the goalkeeper with his right foot.
Messi scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 drubbing of Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup final and the Racing goal means he has more goals for Barcelona than legends Samuel Eto’o and Rivaldo at the age of 23.
Iniesta took centre stage on 33 minutes, showing great technique to convert a volley from distance with goalkeeper Tono helpless after coming out to punch clear.
A minute later Racing were given a life-line with a fortunate penalty after Maxwell was penalised for shoving Francisco Perez in the box.
Mohamed Tchite took the highly contested spot-kick but Victor Valdes dived to his right to save brilliantly.
Villa thought he had scored a debut goal just before half-time but the effort was ruled out for offside.
However, the Spain star, who scored five goals at the World Cup finals, got his debut goal by powering in a great header from a Dani Alves cross just after the hour mark.
Brazilian Adriano, a 9.5 million-euro signing from Sevilla, made his debut when he came on eight minutes from time as a replacement for Iniesta, who was applauded off by the Racing fans.
Earlier, promoted Real Sociedad enjoyed a winning return to La Liga by defeating Villarreal 1-0 at their Anoeta stadium.
Midfielder Xabi Prieto scored the decisive goal on 57 minutes as second division champions Sociedad, back in the top flight after three seasons away, began with three points.
Newcomers Levante and Hercules both lost on Saturday, meaning Sociedad — champions in 1981 and 1982 — are the only promoted side off the mark.
Getafe pipped Villarreal for sixth last season but a summer of departures has weakened their squad and the Madrid-based club fell to a 3-1 defeat at Espanyol on Sunday.
Getafe sold Pedro Leon to Real Madrid for 10 million euros and Roberto Soldado to Valencia for the same amount and the pair were sorely missed in Barcelona.