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First Division - Day Six

Barcelona kept up their lead at the top with a comfortable 0-2 win at Valladolid. Van Gaal has been rotating his players in Barcelona, and Kluivert returned to the centre forward spot after two games on the bench. With Reiziger injured, Ronald de Boer started next to his brother in defence, with Simao replacing the suspended Figo on the right wing. Valladolid were again without Peternac up front, his place being taken by Arilson, with Rodrigo moving forward to join Víctor. Barcelona started off attacking, and Luis Enrique missed an easy chance from Rivaldo's cross after 10 minutes. Valladolid came back with Víctor looking dangerous, but Kluivert opened the scoring on the half hour, skilfully controlling Guardiola's cross before shooting past César, )who has just been named in the Spanish squad for the next match). Frank de Boer limped off with a twisted knee before half time to be replaced by Bogarde, and later checks revealed that the Dutch defender is likely to be out for the next three months. Halfway through the second half Rivaldo wrapped up the match, beating César from a wide angle after a good pass from Kluivert. Five minutes later Bogarde was sent off for a clumsy tackle on Víctor, but even with ten men Barcelona continued to attack and could have scored again. Barcelona will be without defenders Frank de Boer, Bogarde and probably Reiziger for their upcoming match against Real Madrid in ten days time, but Figo will be back.

Barcelona opened up a two point gap over Rayo Vallecano, who drew 1-1 away at Racing Santander. Rayo's German midfielder Poschner recovered from an injury so Juande Ramos named an unchanged side from the team who lost narrowly against Zaragoza, with Canabal still on the bench. Racing kept Lemmens in goal and brought in Shustikov and Neru, but still had no place in the starting line up for Rushfeldt. If Rayo were disappointed about last weeks result (and the fact that none of their players were selected for the Spanish team) it didn't show, and they were the better side for most of the match. In the second half Clotet saw his header rebound off the bar, and shortly afterwards Rayo took the lead, on form Luis Cembranos passing to Bolo for the ex Athletic player to score from close range. Racing brought on Bestchastnykh (another who had suffered from flu all week) and Rushfeldt, and the big Russian striker equalised five minutes from time, bending his free kick around the defensive wall and past the outstretched Keller. Rayo's workmanlike performance deserved better, but they must never have imagined at the start of the season that they would be in second place at this stage of the season. Racing for their part look like another season in mid-table.

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