by Phil Minshull
November 1, 2007
MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona slipped back in the Spanish championship race when they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Valladolid on Thursday.
The Catalan club stay in second place with 21 points from 10 games, but only hang onto the position on goal difference from Villarreal, and Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the table has now been extended to four points.
Valladolid quickly advertised that they were not going to be Barca’s whipping boys when the visitors’ goalkeeper Victor Valdes was required to bring off an outstanding save to deny Sisi Gonzalez after only nine minutes.
Six minutes later, Valladolid did find the net when Joseba Llorente was left unmarked and he finished off an excellent Jonathan Sesma cross at the second time of asking after Valdes only partially blocked his first effort.
Barcelona struggled to react and looked shaken, failing to create any meaningful opportunities until three minutes before the break.
Ronaldinho managed to break free and beat Valladolid goalkeeper Alberto Lopez in a one-on-one situation after the Brazilian had picked up an exquisite Xavi Hernandez cross.
The goal confirmed the frequent statement by Barca coach Frank Rijkaard that the two-time former World Player of the Year can change the course of the game at any moment despite him being almost anonymous up to that point.
After a lacklustre first half, Barca looked much better after the break.
Bojan Krkic just sent a right foot shot wide after 55 minutes and, two minutes later, the 17-year-old prodigy put a Lionel Messi pass on the post.
Valladolid were not finished though and Valdes had to produce another good save seven minutes from time to stop Sesma grabbing a late winner.
Despite their good showing, one point was not enough for Valladolid to improve their position and they remain in penultimate position in the Spanish first division having not won since the opening game of the season.
Espanyol climbed up to fifth place after their 0-0 draw with Murcia.
One point though was a poor reward for the Barcelona-based side who piled on the pressure from the start.
Both Raul Tamudo and Ivan De La Pena had several good chances in the first half and Luis Garcia hit the cross bar three minutes after the break.
Real Madrid consolidated their lead of the Spanish first division by thrashing hapless Valencia 5-1 on Wednesday, equalling the heaviest home defeat in the Mediterranean side’s history.
“We were very superior from the first minute. There were moments when I don’t think we could play any better and that was reflected in the scoreline,” commented Real coach Bernd Schuster after the game.
Real took only 45 seconds to take the lead when Raul picked his spot to push the ball past Valencia goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand from the edge of the area, after Robinho had danced around four defenders.
Ruud van Nistelrooy added Real’s second after 24 minutes, cheekily chipping over the stranded Hildebrand.
Further first half goals from Sergio Ramos and van Nistelrooy gave Real a stunning 4-0 advantage at the break.
Real relaxed slightly after half time and Miguel Angel Angulo got one back for Valencia after 58 minutes but the goal only served as a wake up call and Robinho got Real’s fifth goal six minutes later.
Villarreal beat bottom club Levante 3-0 on Wednesday with all their goals coming in the first half.
Guille France, Guiseppe Rossi and Pascal Cygan all found the net for Villarreal.