Zabaleta went into the opening game just hours after it was announced he had signed a new four-year contract.
The 28-year-old has become one of the club's most consistent performers since his arrival from Espanyol in 2008 and was particularly impressive throughout last season.
"I think it is something special for me," said Zabaleta. "I am really happy.
"I feel at home here at this club. That is why when the club came to me to sign a contract extension I didn't think twice."
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