FC Barcelona down Espanyol 3-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Two goals by Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert and one by Brazilian Ronaldinho helped FC Barcelona beat Espanyol 3-1.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Two goals by Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert and one by Brazilian Ronaldinho helped FC Barcelona roll past bottom-placed and city rival Espanyol 3-1 in a heated match that saw six players sent off. Yesterday's victory was sure to be welcomed by Barcelona who went into the game at the Montjuic 1992 Olympic stadium still licking their wounds following two consecutive defeats - a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Malaga followed by a 2-1 sinking by perennial foe Real Madrid. Barcelona now have 23 points, 10 less than league leader Real Madrid. Espanyol, who stay bottom with eight points, had their hopes raised briefly in the eighth minute when former Barcelona striker Jordi Cruyff headed the ball into goal off a free-kick by Ivan de la Pena. But Ronaldinho, back after a three-week injury absence, fired home Barcelona's first less than two minutes later with an area shot that was deflected by an Espanyol defender. Dismal defending and goalkeeping allowed Kluivert to score his first with a feeble strike from two yards out in the 21st minute. The Dutchman, who has faced heavy criticism for his poor performance this season, slotted in his second with a 10-yard kick 10 minutes before the break. The turnaround raised tempers among the Espanyol players and fans. De la Pena was sent off for a foul in the 41st minute as police moved into the stadium stands to control Espanyol fans who had set fire to seats and posters. Although the match was calmer in the second half, five other players followed De la Pena as referee Alfonso Zamorano totted up 12 yellow cards and two red cards. Barcelona's Mexican defender Rafael Marquez got his second yellow card and was expelled two minutes into the second half while Portuguese teammate Ricardo Quaresma followed him for the same reason six minutes later. Espanyol's Antonio Soldevilla got his second yellow card and marching orders in the 60th minute for elbowing Gerard Lopez in the face while Barcelona were left with eight players when Dutchman Philip Cocu was sent off for a foul in the 74th minute. Espanyol were also reduced to eight players two minutes before the final whistle when Alberto Lopo got a second yellow card for a foul on Kluivert. Also yesterday, Argentine striker Juan Roman Riquelme scored his third of the season for Villarreal in the 12th minute against Real Sociedad. Brazilian Sonny Anderson clinched the team's second in the 33rd to leave the match at 2-0. Argentine Matias Lequi scored a spectacular goal seven minutes from the end to clinch a 2-2 draw for Atletico de Madrid against Celta de Vigo. Atletico stay in fifth place with 26 points, 10 more than Celta. Villarreal are one place behind Atletico with 24 points while Sociedad third from the bottom with 15. (AP)