First Division - Day 3

Barcelona 3 - Racing Santander 1

Barcelona: Arnau; Abelardo, Frank De Boer, Sergi; Gerard, Petit (Reiziger 55'), Simao, De la Peña, Overmars; Rivaldo (Cocu 83'), Kluivert (Alfonso 78'). 3-2-3-2.
Racing: Ceballos; Pineda, Nafti, Mellberg, Sietes; Espina, Jaime; Julio Alvarez (Moran 60'), Manjarín (Rushfeldt 83'), Amavisca; Bestchastnykh (Estévez 46'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barcelona: Arnau, De la Peña for Dutruel, Reiziger / Racing: Pineda, Nafti, Jaime, Julio Alvarez for Tais, Arzeno, Colsa, Rushfeldt.

1-0. 33. Kluivert. Converted cross from Simao on right.
2-0. 57. Kluivert. First time shot after triangular move with De la Peña and Rivaldo.
2-1. 61. Espina. Free kick over wall from edge of area which beat Arnau.
3-1. 92. Overmars. Won back ball on edge of area, rounded keeper and scored.

Barcelona finally got back to winning ways after two defeats on the trot, although they were pushed at the end to defeat a gutsy Racing side that wouldn't give up. Serra Ferrer decided to keep the outfield line up that lost midweek at Beskitas, only bringing in Arnau in goal in place of the suspended Dutruel for his first start since letting in three goals against Real Madrid last March. Racing's manager Goikoetxea was not so lucky, with eight of his first team squad unavailable including defenders Neru and Tais injured and Arzeno and Txema suspended for six and two matches respectively, and he was forced to bring in no less than four debutants in this game. Into the back four came Pineda (who normally plays in midfield) and B team defender from Tunisia, Nafti. The two last minute signings Jaime and Julio Alvarez came right in to the side (Jaime did play for Racing a couple of seasons back), and with three non-EU players in the side (Nafti, Espina and Bestchastnykh), there was no place for another new face, Estévez.

In the first few minutes it looked as if Barcelona were going to get a hat-full, with Gerard, interchanging positions with Iván De la Peña, going close on a couple of occasions and Rivaldo and Simao bringing the best out of Ceballos. Around the half hour mark they finally made the breakthrough, Simao swinging over a cross which Kluivert stuck away with his usual precision. Two minutes later Ceballos blocked a shot from Kluivert at close range, but Racing could have drawn level a few minutes later, Arnau saving well from Bestchastnykh.

At half time Goiko changed his non European strikers, bringing on Estévez for Bestchastnykh, and the Argentinian brought another good save out of Arnau. Five minutes later though Kluivert extended the lead with a display of first touch football, De la Peña picking up a return back heel from Rivaldo and laying the ball forward for the Dutch striker to score his second of the night through the legs of Ceballos. Serra Ferrer went back to a four man defence, with Reiziger replacing Petit, but Racing came back into the game with a well struck free kick from Espina. Except for a shot from Rivaldo against the crossbar, Racing were now closest to scoring, and the home fans hearts were in their mouths until Overmars finally ended Racing's challenge with his first goal for his club. Next week Barça play at Deportivo La Coruña, and referee Undiano Mallenco complicated their task further by sending off Frank De Boer for a second bookable offence near the end. Racing now have to go on to play Real Madrid without many of their key players, and they are already in trouble, next to bottom with only one point.