Argentine scores hat-trick to give Spanish champions 5-3 aggregate win over Sevilla.
|Konko celebrates a brace for Sevilla as the Spanish title race got under way without Ibrahimovic [AFP]|
Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a swipe at Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola after agreeing a move to AC Milan on Saturday, while Valencia and Sevilla prepared to challenge Barca and Real Madrid’s dominance of the Spanish Primera Liga with opening day wins.
The Swedish striker will leave on loan first and then complete a $30.53 million transfer back to Italy.
But he said he had no idea why Guardiola was so keen to off-load him before the start of the Spanish season.
“Guardiola is the philosopher who has shattered my dream to play with Barcelona,” Ibrahimovic said.
“When I enter a room Guardiola leaves, I don’t know if he’s scared of me or what. Speak to him, he’s the one who has the problem. I don’t know what it is.
“Right now I’m very happy because I’m going to Milan. In football everything can change in 24 hours. It’s the end Guardiola wanted.”
Sevilla and Valencia recorded opening day wins in La Liga, helping dispel some of the doubts surrounding their abilities to challenge for honours this season.
Sevilla shook off a heavy defeat to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup and a shock reverse against Braga in the European Champions League playoffs to beat promoted Levante 4-1 away.
A double strike from Abdoulay Konko, an Alvaro Negredo penalty and a last-minute goal from Renato helped cancel out a 10th-minute penalty from Levante’s Ruben Suarez.
Two goals from Joaquin helped Valencia to a 3-1 win at Malaga on Saturday as they started a new era without Spanish World Cup winning duo David Villa and David Silva.
Valencia had to sell their prize assets to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively to help finance their crippling debts over the summer, but new signing Aritz Aduriz opened his account in the ninth minute, and Joaquin struck late on.
In the day’s other game, Spain striker Fernando Llorente headed the only goal as Athletic Bilbao won 1-0 at promoted Hercules.
Sevilla recovered quickly from conceding a penalty at Levante’s Ciutat de Valencia stadium, levelling two minutes later when Jesus Navas’s shot rebounded into the path of Konko.
They were lucky to win a penalty when Diego Perotti was brought down just outside the area in the 28th minute, and Negredo netted from the spot.
Konko finished off a well-worked move in the 62nd and Renato’s diving header at the far post completed the scoring.
“This is very important. After everything bad that’s gone on this was just what we needed,” Negredo told Radio Marca.
Financially-troubled Valencia travelled to face a Malaga side who have just been bought by a member of the Qatari royal family.
Aduriz powered in a header from a corner but the hosts battled back and Uruguayan Sebastian Fernandez flicked in a nearpost free-kick in the 44th minute.
Joaquin broke the deadlock with a deflected shot in the 70th minute, and soon after he wrapped up the points with a volley from an Aduriz lay-off.
“We’ve only just started, there’s still a long way to go but this was the most important step today. We wanted to win to build the confidence,” Valencia coach Unai Emery said.