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Rediff.com  » Sports » Barcelona escape with a draw

Barcelona escape with a draw

April 04, 2005 10:18 IST

An injury-time goal from Giovanni van Bronckhorst earned Spanish Primera Liga leaders Barcelona a 3-3 draw with 10-man Real Betis in the Nou Camp on Sunday.

Van Bronkhorst's leveller and two penalties from Samuel Eto'o, cancelled out two goals from Joaquin and a strike from Ricardo Oliveira which had put Betis 3-1 up midway through the second half, despite playing with 10 men from the 14th-minute.

Second-placed Real Madrid, who play Barca next weekend in the Bernabeu, took their chance to cut the deficit to nine points with a 2-1 win at lowly Albacete.

Real defender Ivan Helguera powered a header under the crossbar after 15 minutes to calm his side's nerves after Pablo Redondo had given Albacete a shock early lead.

England striker Michael Owen, granted a rare start in place of Raul, added the second just before the break after being put through one-on-one by Guti.

Villarreal, who beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Saturday, move above Betis into third place, 10 points adrift of Real with a game in hand.

The bottom five teams all lost so Albacete, Real Mallorca and Numancia all remain stranded in the relegation places.

Barca took the game to Betis from the start but were caught on a swift counter-attack when midfielder Edu broke clear down the left and crossed to the far post where Joaquin stabbed the ball home at full stretch.

CONCEDED PENALTY

The Andalucians, who beat Barca 2-1 earlier in the season, failed to hold on to their lead for long as they conceded a penalty when defender Rivas pulled back Deco as the two chased a ball into the area.

Rivas was dismissed for the challenge, while Cameroon striker Eto'o sent Betis keeper Antonio Doblas the wrong way from the spot.

Barca appeared to miss the influence of injured captain Carles Puyol in the centre of defence and suspended midfielder Rafael Marquez as 10-man Betis continued to trouble the home side on the break.

Five minutes before the interval Brazilian midfielder Marcos Assuncao split Barca's defence with a pass which sent Oliveira through and he beat Victor Valdes to restore the lead.

Betis added a third in the second half when Oliveira fed Joaquin on the edge of the area and the winger's near post shot rolled over the line after striking both posts.

Doblas was inspired as Barca laid siege to the Betis area but it was another penalty which broke their resistance when Juliano Belletti fell under an innocuous nudge from Edu.

Eto'o stepped up to claim his second penalty of the game, and 20th league goal of the season, with seven minutes left but it was four minutes into stoppage time when the equaliser came.

Deco's hopeful long ball into the area skimmed over Maxi Lopez's head leaving Van Bronckhorst one-on-one with Doblas and the Dutch defender hooked the ball past the advancing keeper.

The only bad news for Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was that Deco's yellow card rules him out of next weekend's clash with Real Madrid.

Mark Elkington
Source:
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