| Inter Milan’s Christian Vieri (right) celebrates a goal with Marco Materazzi against Modena in Milan on Sunday. (AFP)
Madrid: Walter Pandiani came off the bench to earn Deportivo La Coruna a 1-0 win at promoted Real Zaragoza in their first league game of the season on Sunday.
The Uruguayan centre-forward, who was recalled from a loan spell at Real Mallorca to help make up for the departure of Roy Makaay, headed in from a Victor cross for the only goal after 67 minutes of an even game.
Deportivo’s Galician neighbours Celta Vigo had a less successful start against Murcia, another promoted side. Celta, who will be playing in the Champions League for the first time after finishing fourth last term, went ahead with a Savo Milosevic header after 32 minutes but Murcia kept plugging away and got the equaliser midway through the second half.
In other matches, Racing Santander began with a 2-1 win at home to Real Mallorca, while Atletico Madrid were beaten 0-1 at Sevilla.
A series of draws and narrow victories left unfashionable Osasuna top of the table thanks to their 2-0 win at Albacete. After a bright spell for Zaragoza early in the game Deportivo took control but without Makaay, the Dutch striker who joined Bayern Munich after top scoring in Spain last season, they looked ill-equipped to make good on all their possession.
Juan Carlos Valeron was excellent in the playmaker’s role but Sergio and Diego Tristan both missed excellent chances created by him. Tristan was replaced by Pandiani, who put the visitors ahead within 120 seconds of taking the field, as he met Victor’s cross with a glancing header.
Monaco beat promoted Metz 1-0 to seize the French Ligue 1 lead. Monaco have gone top on 12 points, level with Olympique Marseille but with a better goal difference. Marseille won away at AC Ajaccio 1-0, Camel Meriem scoring the only goal in the 64th minute. Sebastien Squillaci nodded home in the 38th minute for Monaco who were short of a striker after Congo’s Shabani Nonda was injured against Paris St Germain last week.
Nonda, leading goalscorer in Ligue 1 last season, will be out of action for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Croatia’s Dado Prso, Monaco’s other leading marksman, was also sidelined by ankle problems although he came on as a second-half substitute.
Lens beat Nice 1-0, striker Dagui Bakari scoring the game’s only goal in the 73rd minute.
Juventus led a sweep of season-opening victories for the top Serie A clubs as they crushed Empoli 5-1. Strikers Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Marco Di Vaio scored in Turin but it was a different story at the San Siro, where Inter Milan struggled against Modena before late goals sealed a 2-0 victory for last season’s runners-up.
Both Rome-based clubs won, Lazio, inspired by former AC Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini, outclassing promoted Lecce 4-1 and AS Roma beating Udinese 2-1. Juventus were far too strong for their opponents.
At the San Siro, Inter struggled to get the better of a well-organised Modena side 2-0. In the 14th minute a counter-attack inspired by Inter midfielder Cristian Zanetti left Obafemi Martins with only the keeper to beat, but the 18-year-old Nigerian striker clipped the ball wide.
Christian Vieri finally broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, controlling a cross by Thomas Helveg before beating Ballotta from close range, and Marco Materazzi sealed victory with a dipping free kick four minutes later.