Barcelona beat Villarreal to go ten points clear

Ten-man Barcelona came from behind to beat Villarreal 2-1 and go into the Christmas break with a commanding lead at the top of the table.

updated: December 22, 2008 16:23 IST
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Ten-man Barcelona came from behind to beat Villarreal 2-1 and go into the Christmas break with a commanding lead at the top of the table.

After a tight first half, the game came to life following a fine goal for Villarreal set-up by a delightful through ball from Giuseppe Rossi and despatched coolly by Ruben Cani from a tight angle on Sunday.

Barca were forced to raise their game and showed their championship credentials with first Seydou Keita equalising from a near post header and then Thierry Henry slotting home a cross from Xavi Hernandez.

The visitors had to play the final 17 minutes with a man down after Gerard Pique received his second yellow card.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said he was taking nothing for granted pointing out that there was still a long way to go in the championship race although they lead by 10 points.

"It is comforting to see the way the players are performing but nothing has been decided yet," said Guardiola after Barca's victory. "The game was difficult as we expected but we had luck on our side.

"I think that even with 10 men we were too impetuous and there were moments when Xavi (Hernandez) and (Dani) Alves were too far forward and we were caught out. We have to know how to manage these types of matches even though it is difficult for a coach to get players to stay back."

Earlier, second-placed Sevilla failed to put pressure on leaders Barcelona after they could only manage a 0-0 draw against relegation-threatened Real Mallorca.

The expected onslaught never materialised for Sevilla who faced a Mallorca team with coach Gregorio Manzano hanging on to his job.

Diego Capel hit the post after 17 minutes but Mallorca held their own with Juan Arango causing plenty of pressure at the other end along with Fernando Varela who scraped a post himself before half-time.

It was a game though of few clear chances and on the hour mark Frederic Kanoute, returning from injury, was brought on for Sevilla but he too was unable to break the deadlock.

Deportivo La Coruna maintained their push for a place in Europe with a convincing 4-1 win over Recreativo Huelva.

The Galicians went ahead after ten minutes when Albert Lopo prodded a shot by Jose Ze Castro over the line and then a penalty conceded by Nasief Morris was converted by Sergio Gonzalez.

Adrian Colunga did pull a goal back for the visitors from the penalty spot after a foul by Daniel Aranzubia but it was only a momentary respite for Recre.

A header from Rodolfo Bodipo extended Depor's lead before the break and in the final minute of the game Felipe Luis completed the scoring.

Bottom-placed Osasuna produced the biggest surprise as they fired five goals past a Getafe side who had come to Pamplona in a rich vein of form to win 5-2.

Osasuna though ripped Getafe apart scoring four goals in the first half through Jaroslav Plasil, Juanfran Torres, Walter Pandiani and Javad Nekounam.

After the break substitute Roberto Soldado scored twice for Getafe but in between Hector Font added another for Osasuna. Numancia looked down and out having gone 3-1 down to Valladolid but managed an inspiring comeback to win 3-4.

Jose Barkero scored the opening goal for Numancia before Valladolid responded through a Henok Goitom brace and another from Vivar Dorado. Numancia did not give up though scoring late goals from Javier Del Pino, Carlos Aranda and Gorka Brit.

Racing drew 1-1 with Mallorca with Juan Valera equalising in the second half after Nabil Baha had put the visitors ahead, while Sporting Gijon beat Almeria through a Francisco Maldonado strike.

In the final match of the weekend, Javi Martinez's 43rd minute goal meant Athletic Bilbao had a 1-0 away victory against Real Betis in a mid-table battle.