Barcelona eight points behind Real Madrid in Liga

April 20th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, April 20 (DPA) Barcelona squandered their last chance to challenge Real Madrid for the Spanish Liga, being held to a 0-0 draw by neighbours Espanyol in a Catalan derby. The disappointing draw Saturday leaves Barca eight points behind Real.

Barca are just two points ahead of Villarreal, who will retake second place if they beat Valladolid Sunday.

Real have 69 points, Barca 61 and Villarreal 59.

Barca have won just one of their last eight league matches, their worst run since Frank Rijkaard took charge in 2003. They have failed to beat dogged Espanyol in the last five derby matches.

It was a poor way to warm up for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester United. Captain Carles Puyol limped off after taking a heavy knock and could be doubtful for Wednesday.

Samuel Eto’o came closest to breaking the deadlock, but was foiled four times by Espanyol keeper Carlos Kameni. Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta came off the bench late and livened things up, but Barca still failed to break down a packed Espanyol defence.

Espanyol were pleased with the draw, which leaves them seventh and still with a chance of snatching a UEFA Cup place.

The big surprise Saturday was Atletico Madrid’s 1-3 defeat at home to injury-hit Betis.

Betis won with goals from Juande Prados, Xisco Munoz and Capi. The game finished with the Estadio Calderon crowd chanting for the head of Atletico coach Javier Aguirre, who is now under as much pressure as Rijkaard.

The shock defeat leaves Atletico in fourth place, but now only one point above Santander.

Another team to crash at home was Sevilla, who were surprisingly thrashed 1-4 by lively Almeria in Saturday’s late match.

Real Madrid reject Alvaro Negredo scored twice for Almeria, and moves up to fifth in the scorer’s chart with 13 goals.

The game started to go wrong for Sevilla when Daniel Alves scored an early own goal. On the hour left-back Adriano was sent off.

Sevilla are still sixth, but are now just three points above revelation team Almeria.

Earlier Saturday Zaragoza had thrown themselves a lifeline with a 3-0 win over Recreativo Huelva, with two goals from Ricardo Oliveira and one from Sergio Garcia.

The defiant win takes Zaragoza up to fourth from bottom, level with Huelva on 37 points.

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