Llorente back with a bang

First touch of league campaign bags Spain striker a goal as Bilbao draw 3-3 with Espanyol, while Real do soul-searching.

    Llorente scored with his first touch against Espanyol but his future could still be outside Spain [EPA]
    Llorente scored with his first touch against Espanyol but his future could still be outside Spain [EPA]

    Spain striker Fernando Llorente came off the substitutes' bench and scored with his first touch as he returned to help Athletic Bilbao grab a 3-3 draw at Espanyol in La Liga.
    The 27-year-old, who had asked for a transfer in the close season and been linked in the media with a move to Juventus, was brought on for his first appearance in the league this season after 69 minutes.

    With his side losing 2-1, he broke away and fired low across the goal to equalise two minutes later.

    Espanyol had stormed ahead in the first half with goals from Javi Lopez and Joan Verdu.

    Bilbao started their fightback when Aritz Aduriz headed home in the 56th but, after Llorente levelled, Samuele Longo sprinted clear to net a third for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining.

    Longo was sent off for a second bookable offence as he celebrated with Espanyol fans in the stands, and Aduriz bagged his second goal with a spectacular volley soon after to earn a point for Bilbao.

    Marcelo Bielsa's side, who reached the finals of the Europa League and Copa del Rey last season, have now scored eight goals in their first four games and lie 13th in the standings with four points.

    Barcelona top the table with the only perfect record in La Liga with 12 points after hammering Getafe 4-1 away on Saturday.

    Malaga are second with 10 points after their 3-1 triumph over Levante, while stuttering champions Real Madrid are 10th with four points following their 1-0 defeat at Sevilla.

    Real problems

    Real defender Sergio Ramos said the players need to take on board Jose Mourinho's criticisms and lift their game.

    Coach Jose Mourinho questioned the attitude and commitment of a large number of his players after their second defeat of the season.

    "It's rare that after four games the boss has been so tough and the team have not raised themselves," Ramos told reporters.

    "The moment has arrived for us to look at ourselves and say we can give more, that we should improve and change our attitude."

    Real have taken only four points from their opening four games and are now eight adrift of arch-rivals and leaders Barcelona, who have a 100 per cent record so far.

    Although it is early days, Real lost only two games and drew four on their way to winning the title last season.

    Daily El Pais headlined their match report on Sunday: "Madrid in a state of alarm," while sports daily AS made reference to Cristiano Ronaldo's remarks from two weeks ago that he was sad.

    Real's leading striker appears to have unsettled the side with his public outburst, prompting wide-ranging media speculation over the reasons for his unhappiness that the club have failed to staunch.

    "It isn't a matter of whether Cristiano is sad or not anymore," AS wrote. "Now all of Madrid is sad. Unexpectedly sad."

    Real host Manchester City in their opening UEFA Champions League group game on Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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