VIGO, Spain: Atletico Madrid began their LaLiga title defence with a 2-1 win away to Celta Vigo on Sunday thanks to two strikes from Argentine forward Angel Correa although the game ended with a mass brawl and a player from each side was sent off.
Luis Suarez began the game on the bench and Correa took full responsibility for the team's attacking duties, firing Atletico ahead midway through the first half after a marauding run from Thomas Lemar.
Celta levelled in the 59th minute with a penalty from captain Iago Aspas but Atletico soon restored their lead when Correa arrowed his finish into the bottom corner after a superb diagonal ball from Saul Niguez, who had been expected to leave the club during the close season.
The game ended in chaos as Celta captain Hugo Mallo and Atletico defender Mario Hermoso were shown red cards in added time for clashing off the ball while players all over the pitch could be seen confronting each other in the melee.
Atletico were fortunate not to concede an equaliser when Aspas rounded keeper Jan Oblak but the striker somehow missed the target with the goal gaping.
The champions were forced to defend deep in their own half until the 10th minute of added time to make an ideal start in their bid to successfully defend a league title for the first time since 1951.
Suarez, who struck 21 goals to help Atletico to a first title since 2014, came off the bench to replace Correa midway through the second half while Argentine midfielder Rodrigo de Paul also came on to make his debut following a €35-million (US$41-million) move from Udinese.
"We played really well, controlling the first half and causing lots of problems to a side that plays very good football," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
"The penalty gave the game a different feel but we responded very well with a superb goal. We played at a very high pace and I'm very happy about that."
Celta forward Aspas felt his side deserved more and agonised over his late miss.
"I had the draw in my grasp and it's a chance I can't afford to miss," he said.
"The truth is I leave feeling very angry because we should have got at least a point and I missed a chance like that."