Barcelona beat Real Betis 2-0, while defending champion Real Madrid eased to a 3-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.

By Associated Press
August 20, 2017

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — All soccer matches in Spain held a minute's silence to honor victims as the Spanish league began a new season under the shadow of recent attacks in Barcelona and a nearby coastal town.

Sunday's game in Barcelona became a focal point for a city insisting it won't be afraid.

Barcelona beat Real Betis 2-0, while defending champion Real Madrid eased to a 3-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.

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HONORING VICTIMS

Barcelona's players had the word ''Barcelona'' instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag ''TOTSSOMBARCELONA'' (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium's large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute's silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting ''No tinc por'' (I'm not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people's reaction to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi thrived and led the Catalan club to its comfortable victory.

He came agonizingly close to scoring his 350th La Liga goal, but was denied by the woodwork three different times.

Barcelona scored goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half - an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto.

Barcelona was coming off consecutive losses to Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BALE LEADS WAY

Gareth Bale made the most of the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring one goal and setting up another to make sure Madrid got its title defense off to a winning start.

It was also an important opportunity for Bale to show that he should keep his spot in the starting 11 after Ronaldo completes the remaining three matches of his suspension for pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup. Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon and Marco Asensio had superb performances to lead Madrid to both the European and Spanish Super Cups and they are putting pressure on Bale for his spot in the lineup.

After withstanding Deportivo's early surge, Bale provided the opening goal in the 20th when he tapped in a rebound.

Casemiro added a second goal seven minutes later, and Bale assisted Toni Kroos to round off the victory in the 63rd.

Madrid's easy win was only marred by Sergio Ramos being sent off in stoppage time when he picked up his second booking.

DISAPPOINTING START

Athletic was held by Getafe to a 0-0 draw despite playing nearly 30 minutes with an extra man at its San Mames Stadium.

Getafe midfielder Alvaro Jimenez was sent off with a second yellow card in the 66th minute but Athletic was not able to take advantage.

Getafe claimed a first-half goal but the referee ruled that the ball did not cross the goal line.

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