GRANADA, Spain — Eibar won 3-1 at 10-man Granada on Monday to make a promising start to the modest Basque club’s second season in the Spanish League.
The victory by a two-goal margin meant round one ends with Eibar as the unlikely leader at top of the standings on goal difference.
Midfielder Adrian Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 22nd minute at Los Carmenes Stadium from Antonio Luna’s pass, and the left back broke free to easily assist Gonzalo Escalante in the 35th.
Granada pulled one back when substitute Isaac Success set up Ruben Rochina in the 50th, only for the hosts’ comeback to be derailed by Salva Ruiz’s direct red card for a studs-first challenge of Dani Garcia six minutes later.
Mikel Arruabarrena made sure coach Jose Mendilibar enjoyed a winning debut in his second stint with Eibar by scoring one minute after being introduced in the 66th.
“We played a great game and we are a united group, that was the foundation of this win,” Escalante said. “We struggled a bit after they scored, but luckily we were helped by the sending-off.”
Eibar also made a strong start last campaign, only to need what its fans must consider a miraculous turn of events to stay in the first division. Eibar was relegated on the final day of last season after finishing in the bottom three spots, but it was later reinstated as a topflight team after the league penalized Elche for breaking rules on debt limits by demoting it to the second division.
Granada’s loss was its first under manager Jose Sandoval, who earned a new contract this summer after agreeing to coach the team for the final four matches of last season. Sandoval led the team to three wins and a draw, good enough for it to avoid the drop.
On Sunday, Luis Suarez scored in Barcelona’s 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao to begin its title defense.
Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo, and Espanyol also won their league openers.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, stumbled in Rafa Benitez’s lackluster league debut after drawing 0-0 at promoted Sporting Gijon.