Barcelona stay top in Serie A despite home draw

November 24th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Nov 24 (DPA) Barcelona were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw at home to midtable Getafe, but remain three points clear at the top of the Spanish Liga.Manu del Moral gave Getafe a shock early lead, Barca needed a late equaliser from Seydou Keita to force a draw Sunday.

Barca sorely missed injury victims Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, and rarely looked likely to score their 10th straight league win - though Gerard Pique headed against the crossbar in a frenetic finale.

The disappointing draw leaves Josep Guardiola’s team three points ahead of Real Madrid - 29 points to 26 - who struggled to beat bottom team Recreativo Huelva 1-0 Saturday.

Villarreal, who crashed 3-0 at home to Valladolid Saturday, are third on 25. Then come Sevilla and Valencia, who played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday, on 24.

Getafe made a livelier start than Barca and Manu del Moral put them ahead in the 19th minute with a classy right-foot curling shot, which bounced just in front of Barca keeper Victor Valdes.

Barca took control from then on, but without Messi and Iniesta lacked their usual fluency and creativity.

The closest that they came to equalizing in the first half was when Samuel Eto’o hit the crossbar with a speculative shot.

Hard-working Getafe had their chances to finish Barca off in the second half. In the 73rd minute came the equalizer, Keita heading in a perfect centre from Dani Alves after the Brazilian had been set up by Xavi.

Getafe had to endure a few goalmouth scuffles at the end - such as when Pique headed against the bar - but fully deserved a point.

“They made things very difficult for us,” said Barca captain Carles Puyol, “and we didn’t really create enough clear chances.”

Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, were suffering a late 1-1 draw away to Numancia - a result that keeps them in sixth place, six points behind Sevilla and Valencia.

Diego Forlan gave Atletico the lead, Jose Barkero levelled for spirited Numancia from an injury-time penalty. This latest poor display on the road will increase the pressure on Atletico coach Javier Aguirre.

At the other end of the table, Sunday saw the first win of the season for Osasuna.

The Pamplona team moved off the bottom with a defiant 3-1 come-from-behind defeat of Almeria.

It was Osasuna’s first win of the season and was celebrated loudly in Pamplona. It was also their first win under former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho, after seven matches.

Things looked bad for Camacho’s side after Alvaro Negredo gave Almeria the lead from the penalty spot after just eight minutes. But straight afterwards Almeria defender Guilherme was sent off, and five minutes later Uruguayan veteran Walter Pandiani made it 1-1 with his trusty forehead.

Osasuna, who reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2007, went ahead in the 72nd minute, when Almeria’s Hernan Pellerano scored a clumsy own goal.

Hungarian supersub Krisztian Vadocz made it 3-1 in injury time, with his first goal in Spain.

Osasuna are now second from bottom with eight points from 12 games, one point above Recreativo Huelva, who lost 1-0 away to relegation-plagued Real Madrid on Saturday.

Third from bottom, on nine points, are Athletic Bilbao, who crashed 3-1 away to Deportivo Coruna in Sunday’s late game.

Numancia remain fourth after their draw at home to Atletico Madrid. Espanyol, 3-0 losers in Santander, fall down to fifth from bottom, on 12 points.

Just above them, on 13, are Mallorca, who drew 2-2 at home to Malaga.

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