First Division - Day 23

Barcelona 2 - Deportivo La Coruña 3

Barcelona: Reina; Gabri, Frank De Boer, Reiziger, Sergi (Gerard 79'); Guardiola, Cocu; Luis Enrique (Dani 79'), Rivaldo, Zenden (Alfonso 46'); Kluivert. 4-2-3-1.
Deportivo: Molina (Songo'o 30'); Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Mauro Silva, Emerson; Víctor, Djalminha (Capdevila 81'), Fran (Valerón 57'); Makaay. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barcelona: Reiziger, Guardiola, Cocu, Zenden for Abelardo, Xavi, Petit, Gerard / Depor: Emerson, Víctor, Makaay for Valerón, Scaloni, Diego Tristán.

0-1. 05. Djalminha. Shot from outside area after Makaay laid ball back.
1-1. 15. Rivaldo (penalty). After Naybet brought down Luis Enrique.
2-1. 35. Luis Enrique. Glancing header past Songo'o from Guardiola free kick.
2-2. 72. Víctor. Took pass from Djalminha and bent shot past keeper.
2-3. 92. Víctor. Shot into top corner after Mauro Silva laid across short free kick.

Deportivo won for the first time ever in the Nou Camp to keep in touch with Real Madrid and leave Barcelona virtually out of the race for the league title. The two teams had met no less than 30 times in Barcelona in the first division before this game, but Deportivo are a different team nowadays, and with a much better away record than previous seasons they came in to the game full of confidence. Within five minutes of the kick off they were already in front, Djalminha's shot from outside of the area catching an unprepared Reina out of position. However Barça bounced back, and with Luis Enrique leading from the front they had turned the result around by half time.

Their first goal came on the quarter hour mark when the Asturian born international was brought down by Naybet in the area, Rivaldo stepping up to score his 23rd of the season from the spot. Deportivo went close through Víctor and Makaay, both back in the starting line up after being rested for the midweek Champions League defeat at Galatasaray, and then with half an hour gone Molina had to leave the field with a leg injury after colliding with Kluivert, Songo'o coming on to replace him. Virtually his first action though was to pick the ball out of the back of the net, Luis Enrique glancing a header wide of him from Guardiola's free kick. Zenden had been starting a match for the first time since coming back from injury, but at half time he had to leave the field limping. With Simao and Overmars still not fit, Serra Ferrer brought on Alfonso to play on the left, but he was out of position and ended up being booed, together with Sergi, by the home supporters near the end.

Rivaldo for the home side and Fran for the visitors both missed good opportunities at the start of the second half, and Songo'o saved well from Luis Enrique. But Deportivo were by then the playing the better of the two, and two great strikes from Víctor in the last 20 minutes left Barcelona down and out, the first coming after a Djalminha pass and the second in injury time after Mauro Silva laid out a short free kick. So excited were the Deportivo players after the second that two non-playing substitutes Scaloni and Tristán raced on to the pitch to congratulate their colleagues, referee Medina Cantalejo rather harshly penalizing both with a yellow card.

The 95,000 capacity crowd (which included Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal, caught on camera singing the Barça anthem before the match) were silent, unable to believe what they were seeing. But their heroes were now left seven points behind their rivals and no less than eleven from leaders Real Madrid. The long season is starting to take it's toll (Barça played their UEFA cup tie in Athens only 48 hours before this game), but both have to keep going with European games again midweek, and Deportivo playing Real Madrid on Saturday in a crunch match.