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Sunday, April 11, 2004 

Barça resume winning ways (Real Valladolid 1 - Barcelona 3)

Saturday, 10 Apr 04 21:18
Barça chalked up a deserved sixth away win tonight against Valladolid to keep up the pressure on their opponents at the top of the table.

The match couldn't have started better for Barça with a Saviola goal inside the opening two minutes. Ronaldinho added the second in the first half and Iniesta chipped in with a third near the end. The black cloud on the night was the sending off of Ronaldinho for a second yellow card, which means he'll miss Wednesday's rearranged game in Seville against Bétis. Despite the numerous absences in defence and playing with ten men from the 53rd minute, Barça put in a good performance, above all in the first half.

With his defensive line decimated by injuries and suspension, Frank Rijkaard opted for Gerard and Reiziger at fullback with a combination of experience and youth, Cocu and Oleguer, in the centre. Motta joined Davids and Xavi in midfield. The match started brightly and Barça almost immediately found themselves one goal up when Saviola took full advantage of Reiziger's surging run down the left. The Dutch defender centred from the line and Saviola slotted home at the near post.

Barça continued to look dangerous and in the 11th minute Ronaldinho centred for Davids whose shot screwed just wide of the post. Valladolid had their first effort on goal thanks to Oscar but his shot was well saved by Valdés. Gradually, the home side began to fight back.

Rijkaard decided to take off Luis García in the 22nd minute and replace him by Club captain Luis Enrique. Five minutes later, Valladolid enjoyed their best chance of the match so far. Fernando Sales served the ball up on a plate for Richetti who was completely unmarked in front of goal, but he could only fire wide. Ronaldinho got Barca's second after a through ball from Motta found Saviola inside the area. His centre was met by the Brazilian at the far post and Ronaldinho volleyed into the net before the ball could touch the ground. That's his 20th goal for Barça in all competitions. With a comfortable two-goal cushion, Barça coasted through to the break.

Barça continued to control the game with ease after the break but in the 53rd minute disaster struck when Ronaldinho was shown his second yellow card of the night for interfering with Bizzarri's clearance. Valladolid now held the momentum and they reduced Barça's lead in the 67th minute thanks to Oscar's headed goal from a corner kick. Rijkaard decided to shuffle things around and brought on Óscar López for Saviola. Gerard moved into midfield and Luis Enrique took on the role of sole striker.

But Valladolid had the psychological edge and began to trouble Valdés with increasing frequency. They hit the crossbar in a confused action that was finally cleared by Cocu.

Rijkaard brought on Iniesta for Gerard for the last ten minutes, moving Oscar López to right back in his place. A great pass from Luis Enrique gave Iniesta the chance to wrap up the match and he coolly slotted home past the despairing Bizzarri.

source: fcbarcelona.com.


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