Morientes helps Valencia get off to winning start

August 26, 2006

MADRID, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Striker Fernando Morientes celebrated his return to the Primera Liga by scoring the first goal of the Spanish season, guiding Valencia to a 2-1 win over Real Betis on Saturday.

The former Real Madrid player, who returned to Spain in the close season after a spell in England with Liverpool, smashed the ball into the net from 15 metres in the 32nd minute.

Betis equalised with a well-taken header from Valencia old boy Xisco early in the second half but centre back Raul Albiol secured victory for the home side when he converted a corner in the 61st minute.

The majority of teams do not play until Sunday, with Real Madrid starting out under new coach Fabio Capello with a home game against injury-hit Villarreal.

Barcelona begin their quest for a third successive league title when they travel to Celta Vigo on Monday.

Sevilla, who swept past Barcelona 3-0 in the European Super Cup on Friday, host promoted Levante on Tuesday.