Monday, November 6, 2006

Barza was held by Deportivo in Riazor

In a very difficult stadium, Barcelona were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw in their match with Deportivo Coruna on Saturday.

Indeed, once again the European and Spanish champions struggled to find their rhythm in the face of hard-running opponents determined to unsettle them at every chance.

It's good to say that Ronaldinho Gaucho put Barca ahead from the penalty spot just before half-time, but Depor’s unrelenting pressure earned an equaliser in the 73rd minute when Juan Rodriguez scored after keeper Victor Valdes had saved a Fabian Estoyanoff penalty.

The Blaugrana side moved on to 20 points, two ahead of second-placed Sevilla. Real Madrid, who are a point further back, are placed third.

Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard gave Argentine frontman Javier Saviola a rare start in the Riazor with strikers Samuel Eto’o and Eidur Gudjohnsen out injured.

However, they had few sights of goal as a bright and busy Depor hustled them all over the ground.

Deportivo La Coruña stifled their creativity until Barca’s outstanding Andres Iniesta started to make his presence felt and he was involved in the move that led to the first penalty. Home defender Juanma made a late challenge on Saviola at the edge of the area and Ronaldinho sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.

In fact, the Brazilian was lucky to still be on the pitch at that moment after making a studs up challenge on Alberto Lopo just a few minutes earlier.

Depor’s youngsters never eased off though and were rewarded for their efforts when former Barcelona youth teamer Joan Verdu was brought down by Edmilson in the area.

As we all saw, Valdes guessed right to save Estoyanoff’s spot kick but Rodriguez squeezed the rebound inside the far post.

It's important to mention that a frantic finale saw both sides go close to finding a winner with another former Barca youth team footballer Cristian spurning the clearest of openings.