Real Madrid beat Valladolid; Suárez and Atlético held

MADRID (AP) — Vinícius Júnior scored after coming off the bench as Real Madrid defeated Valladolid 1-0 yesterday for its second win in a row in the Spanish league, while Atlético Madrid was held to a scoreless draw against promoted Huesca in a disappointing first start for Luis Suárez.

Vinícius Júnior netted the winner midway through the second half after Madrid’s forwards struggled again in attack. The young Brazilian broke the deadlock from close range after a defensive mistake by Valladolid defenders inside the area.

He had been on the field for less than 10 minutes after replacing striker Luka Jovic, who missed another chance to impress as a starter. Jovic had two of the best scoring opportunities of the game but could not capitalise on them, first with a close-range shot in the first half and then with a header after halftime.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane started the match with two strikers, but Karim Benzema also was far from his best up front.

“It was difficult in the first half, but we changed the game after we switched the scheme (to a 4-3-3) and I entered the match with (Marco) Asensio,” Vinícius Júnior said.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior and Valladolid’s Oscar Plano during the Spanish La Liga football match at Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain. PHOTO: AP

Vinícius Júnior became the first forward to score for Madrid this season after it opened its title-defence campaign with a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad and a 3-2 win against Real Betis thanks to a late penalty kick converted by defender Sergio Ramos.

Madrid again was without Eden Hazard, who had recovered from an ankle injury but now is nursing a right leg muscle injury.

The victory left Madrid at the top of the standings with seven points, along with Getafe, Valencia and Villarreal. Madrid and Getafe have a game in hand.

Valladolid, winless after four matches, had a few good chances on counterattacks and forced Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a couple of good saves.

Barcelona and Atlético had their first two matches postponed because of the participation in the quarterfinals of the Champions League in August. Madrid had one game postponed after reaching the round of 16.

ATLÉTICO HELD

Suárez followed up his promising debut for Atlético with a lackluster performance in his first start yesterday. Three days after scoring two goals and setting up another in about 20 minutes off the bench in Atlético’s 6-1 win over Granada, Suárez struggled in the team’s 0-0 draw at Huesca.

The former Barcelona player started alongside young Portugal forward João Félix, but the duo failed to spark the attack for Diego Simeone’s team.

The Uruguay striker had the game’s best chance after a perfect through-ball by Félix in the 59th minute, but he failed to get past goalkeeper Andrés Fernández inside the area and eventually had his shot blocked.

Suárez was substituted by Diego Costa less than three minutes after the miss, but the Brazilian-born striker also couldn’t do much up front. Atlético pressured near the end but failed to capitalise on a couple of good opportunities from inside the area. “What we did in the second half is the right path,” Simeone said. “We just couldn’t capitalise on our chances.”

Huesca, back in the topflight after a year in the second division, was looking for its first win of the season after two draws and a loss. Huesca next visits Elche, another promoted club which yesterday defeated Eibar 1-0.