Barça, Atlei surrender perfect starts
© AFP

Barcelona missed the chance to equal the best ever start to a Spanish La Liga season as they dropped their first points of the campaign in a 0-0 draw at Osasuna.

With Lionel Messi starting on the bench, the visitors failed to make the most of their dominance in the first-half with Marc Bartra's wayward header their only serious effort on goal.

Neymar and Cesc Fabregas then passed up great chances to put Barça in front at the beginning of the second period before Messi was finally introduced for the final quarter. However, even the Argentinian international couldn't open the door as Osasuna stood firm to prevent Barça scoring in the league for the first time since January 2012.

Barcelona coach Gerado Martino had decided to hand a surprise start to captain Carles Puyol after seven months out due to knee surgery, but left Messi on the bench as he returned from a thigh strain.

Barça's best chance in the first half came from a set-piece when Bartra headed over when completely unmarked from Xavi's corner in stoppage time. Neymar was inches away from finding the breakthrough nine minutes after the break but he just couldn't reach Martin Montoya's low cross on the stretch.

Fabregas then blasted over after being played in perfectly by Xavi. With the chances beginning to arrive, Martino summoned Messi from the bench 22 minutes from time in place of Xavi.

The Argentina forward fired a warning shot wide with his first opening 12 minutes from the end, but Barça' failed to create another clear sight of goal and had to settle for a draw.

Atleti own goal
A point was enough though to move Martino's men to the top of the table as Atletico Madrid also lost their 100 per cent record with a 1-0 defeat at Espanyol.

Thibaut Courtois' own goal ten minutes after the break handed Javier Aguirre's side the three points against his old club to leave Atletico a point adrift of Barça in second place.

Real Madrid cut the gap on the leaders to three points ahead of their clash at the Camp Nou next weekend with a routine 2-0 win over Malaga at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale made his return to action for Los Blancos as a late substitute and won the penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo converted to seal the points after Angel di Maria had given Madrid the lead.

It was a much improved all round performance from Madrid, who were only denied a far more comfortable margin of victory due to a series of wonderful saves by Malaga keeper Willy Caballero.

After being denied time and again by Caballero in the first-half. the opener arrived in fortunate circumstances less than 60 seconds after the interval. Ronaldo just failed to get on the end of Di Maria's in-swinging cross but the ball sailed into the far corner in any case.

Caballero continued to thwart the hosts as he denied Ronaldo on various occasion and produced his best save six minutes from time to turn Jese Rodriguez's sweetly struck effort behind. However, he was powerless to stop Ronaldo's perfect penalty deep into stoppage time after Bale had induced a reckless challenge from Weligton.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad earned a 2-1 win over Valencia.