Manuel Labor reports.....
First Division
Second Division
European Competitions
International Matches
First Division - Day Three

League football returned after a two week break for the Euro 2000 matches, with two of the three top teams, Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano, winning again to maintain their lead at the top. Barcelona played local rivals Espanyol on Saturday which was by chance the Catalan national day, la Diada. Rather than a Catalan derby however, the match seemed more like an international between Holland and Argentina, with eight Dutch and five Argentinians appearing for their respective sides. Louis Van Gaal surprised Barcelona supporters by leaving out Luis Enrique in favour of Gabri, possibly to save him for the mid-week champions league game. Espanyol had clearly come for the draw, and their defence held out for 75 minutes with Cavallero putting in a splendid performance in the visiting goal. It took Rivaldo on his most brilliant form to break the ice, and he latched on to a clever lobbed pass from Kluivert to shoot past the Argentinian keeper. With Espanyol forced to come forward to look for the equaliser, the Barça forwards took advantage to score twice more, firstly through Kluivert after Cocu headed back substitute Zenden's cross, then again through Rivaldo after another pass from Kluivert. Both teams were reduced to ten men shortly before half time when Figo was sent off for reacting to a foul by Pochettino, with the Argentinian defender getting his marching orders for a second yellow card in the same incident.

The 3-0 scoreline takes Barcelona to the top of the table on goal average ahead of Rayo Vallecano, who kept up their surprising run with their third victory in a row. This time their victims were Real Sociedad, with Michel I (not to be confused with Michel II who also played) scoring the winner shortly before the end to give the Madrid side a 2-1 victory. Jordi Ferron had given Rayo the lead in the first half, but Idiakez levelled the scores in the second half. Real, who registered a protest against the kick-off time in the mid-day heat, were forced to leave out midfield star De Pedro, who was injured two weeks ago.

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