Karim Benzema has picked up from where he left off last season, scoring twice to lead Real Madrid to a comfortable 4-1 win over Alaves in their La Liga opener.
Playing again under coach Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid also got a goal from Nacho Fernandez, one of the defenders stepping in to replace Manchester United signing Raphael Varane and veteran captain Sergio Ramos, who left after 16 seasons because the club didn’t want to extend his contract.
Benzema, the team’s top scorer last season under Zinedine Zidane, put Madrid ahead with a shot from inside the area after a clever backheel touch by Eden Hazard in the 48th minute.
The France striker added his second from close range in the 62nd, six minutes after Fernandez had found the net from a Luka Modric cros.
Alaves pulled one back with a penalty converted by Joselu Mato in the 65th before substitute Vinicius Junior completed the scoring with a header two minutes into stoppage time.
The result kept Madrid unbeaten in league openers since 2008.
About 4,000 fans were at the Mendizorroza Stadium as Spanish health authorities allowed the league to restart with crowds of up to 40 per cent of the venues’ capacity.
It was Madrid’s first of three straight away matches.
Their first home game is scheduled for September, when they should be back at their renovated Santiago Bernabeu – while construction works continue.
David Alaba, who joined from Bayern Munich, played at left back on Saturday because of the absences of Ferland Mendy and Marcelo while Madrid were also without Germany midfielder Toni Kroos because of an injury.
Ancelotti’s attack included Benzema, Hazard and Gareth Bale, who returned after a season on loan with Tottenham.
The other two games on Saturday in Spain’s top-flight ended 1-1.
Alfonso Espino scored seven minutes into second-half stoppage time to salvage Cadiz a home draw with Levante.
The visitors had gone ahead with a goal by Jose Luis Morales in the 39th.
Promoted Mallorca took the lead against Real Betis with a goal by Brian Olivan in the 25th but Juanmi Jimenez equalised for the visitors in the 59th for a share of the spoils.
On Sunday, Barcelona’s first season without Lionel Messi after almost two decades starts with a home match against Real Sociedad while defending champions Atletico Madrid opens at Celta Vigo.