Posted: 02 April 2006 at 3:08am | IP Logged
Barcelona frustrated by 10-man Real in Spanish League
- Real Madrid overcame the sending off of Roberto Carlos to frustrate bitter rivals Barcelona and secure a share of the spoils in the Spanish League's most famous grudge match on Saturday. A superb goal from Brazilian striker Ronaldo earned a 1-1 draw for Real after the Catalans' went ahead from a coolly taken Ronaldinho penalty after 22 minutes at the Nou Camp, following Carlos' reckless foul on Mark Van Bommel.
The result did nothing to loosen Barcelona's vice-like grip on the championship standings, with Frank Rijkaard's men maintaining their 11-point lead over second-placed Real with seven games remaining.
Barcelona dominated almost from the very first minute, quickly settling into their passing game and not giving Real any chance to get into the match.
Van Bommel had two clear-cut scoring opportunities in the first five minutes. The Dutch international forced Iker Casillas into a double save with a low shot on three minutes and then chipped wide after being put one-on-one with the Real keeper via a delightful Ronaldinho pass.
Barcelona went close again on 13 minutes with a low drive from Deco that Casillas scrambled clear.
But the pressure told on 20 minutes. Carlos lunged in on Van Bommel inside the area, and though the contact was minimal, referee Luis Medina Cantalejo pointed to the spot.
Carlos then compounded his blunder by getting booked for trying to disrupt Ronaldinho's concentration. The ploy didn't work however, and Ronaldinho calmly sent Casillas the wrong way with the spot-kick.
Within minutes Real's challenge threatened to disintegrate into total disarry when Carlos tested Cantalejo's patience for the second time -- and was promptly given his marching orders by the man in black.
Yet though Barcelona continued to control play, the Nou Camp was stunned into silence on 37 minutes when Real equalised through Ronaldo.
Ronaldinho gave away possession with a loose pass deep in Real territory, and Julio Baptista surged onto the ball and clipped a searching ball behind the Barcelona defence for Ronaldo.
The Brazilian striker's first touch took him towards the Barca goal and he conjured an exquisite finish over the advancing Victor Valdes to make it 1-1. To make matters worse, Barcelona's Thiago Motta pulled up with a hamstring injury chasing Ronaldo and was stretchered from the field to play no further part.
Barcelona clearly wanted to make the extra man count and removed Van Bommel for Ludovic Giuly, to leave them with four men in attack.
But with Real defending and numbers and with uncharacteristic resilience, Barcelona's attacking threat was kept at bay.
Swedish international Henrik Larsson had the Catalans' best chance after being put into acres of space by Ronaldinho but was denied by a fantastic save by Casillas. Larsson could have take all three points in injury time but headed wide with the goal begging.
Phewww .... Atleast we DREW with them in their own territory . Great job Los Galacticos