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Rediff.com  » Sports » Barca snatch late win at Albacete

Barca snatch late win at Albacete

December 12, 2004 15:50 IST
A superb late strike from Barcelona midfielder Xavi allowed the Primera Liga leaders to snatch a 2-1 win away to a determined Albacete on Saturday.

The Spanish international cracked a volley into the far corner from a metre outside the area five minutes from time after a poor clearance from the Albacete defence.

The win put Barca 12 points clear at the top of the table, although their nearest rivals Real Madrid and Espanyol have yet to play this weekend.

Atletico Madrid missed their chance to consolidate a place in the upper reaches of the table when they went down 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao in Saturday's late match.

Bilbao defender Asier del Horno grabbed the winner when he steered in at the far post on the stroke of halftime after midfielder Andoni Iraola had swept a fine pass over the Atletico defence.

The win allowed Bilbao to move up into 12th position in the table, while Atletico remain in sixth.

Barcelona got off to a flying start in their match when highly rated young midfielder Andres Iniesta put his side ahead with less than two minutes on the clock.

The under-21 international dispossessed Albacete defender Franciso Pena as he tried to play the ball out of the area and then poked a sharp shot under keeper Ronald Gaspercic inside the near post.

HEAVY PRESSURE

But Barca eased up a little too soon and struggled to put together their usual fluent passing game as they found themselves under heavy pressure from the combative Albacete midfield.

Albacete went within a whisker of equalising just before the half hour after they were gifted a chance when Barca fullback Damia lost his feet in the area, but keeper Victor Valdes produced a fantastic reaction save to scoop the ball clear.

Valdes came to Barca's rescue again at the start of the second half, stopping a fierce shot from Uruguayan striker Antonio Pacheco after a neat back-heel from midfielder David Sanchez.

The home side finally scored when Gonzalez got the faintest of touches to direct an Antonio Pacheco free kick into the net midway through the half.

Barca were on the ropes for the next 10 minutes and Carles Puyol had to make a desperate clearance off the line to stop Pacheco guiding a Gonzalez shot into the net.

But just as they looked as though they might slip to defeat, Xavi popped up to decide the match.

Source:
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