La Liga: Woeful Barca held at home

April 6, 2008

MADRID, April 6 (Reuters) - Barcelona and Villarreal failed to put the pressure on leaders Real Madrid as they dropped points in the Primera Liga on Sunday.

Real Mallorca had held the champions to a 1-1 draw on Saturday but Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona side drew 0-0 at home to UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Getafe, while Villarreal's nine-game unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla.

Real have 66 points, and are seven clear of Villarreal and Barcelona tied in second and third respectively on 59 points, with seven games left to play.

Getafe's well-organised defence gave Barca few sights of goal at the Nou Camp -- the woodwork and Argentina goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri did the rest. Samuel Eto'o struck a post in the first half and Giovani dos Santos repeated the feat at the start of the second.

Xavi hit an upright at a free kick as Barca's attacks became more desperate and Abbondanzieri saved Eidur Gudjohnsen's point-blank header. Barca were whistled off the pitch at the end.

Villarreal were always up against it at the Sanchez Pizjuan and were pegged back by Sevilla's Brazil striker Luis Fabiano, who raced clear to score his 23rd of the campaign midway through the first half.

Diego Lopez made a string of important saves to keep the visitors in the game, but gave away a penalty three minutes from time, which Mali striker Frederic Kanoute put away.

BRAVE RESISTANCE

Atletico Madrid beat nine-man Almeria 6-3 to strengthen their grip on fourth place with 53 points.

The home side were cruising inside six minutes after a free kick from Antonio Lopez, a penalty from Uruguay's Diego Forlan, and a red card for visiting defender Ruben Pulido. But Almeria stormed back to level by the 17th minute.

Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa restored Atletico's lead with a free kick which the keeper fumbled into his own net, but again Almeria equalised.

Unai Emery's side were reduced to nine men in the 40th minute, and Simao's breakaway goal just before the break effectively ended their brave resistance.

Argentine striker Sergio Aguero wrapped up the scoring for Atletico with two in the second half.

Racing Santander stumbled to a 3-1 home defeat to Deportivo Coruna and are fifth on 50 points, two ahead of Sevilla in sixth.

At the foot of the standings, Real Zaragoza's 3-0 home defeat to Real Betis left them deep in relegation trouble in 18th with 33 points, three adrift of 17th-placed Recreativo Huelva.

Real Murcia, who beat King's Cup finalists Valencia 1-0, are 19th with 29 and bottom club Levante, who lost 3-0 against Valladolid, have 19