First Division - Day 36

Barcelona 0 - Oviedo 1

Barcelona: Dutruel; Puyol, Reiziger (Zenden 58'), Frank De Boer, Sergi; Guardiola (Petit 68'), Cocu; Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Overmars (Gabri 68'); Kluivert. 4-2-3-1.
Oviedo: Esteban; Gaspar, Danjou, Boris, Rabarivony (Martinovic 82'); Jaime, Onopko; Paunovic, Tomic (Amieva 77'), Iván Ania; Oli (Raúl 87'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barcelona: Kluivert for Gabri / Oviedo: No change.

0-1. 47. Jaime. Drove ball past Dutruel after Oli stepped over Paunovic centre.

A poor performance by Barcelona left them virtually out of the Champions League spots and at the same time threw a life line to struggling Oviedo. The Catalan side had possession for over two thirds of the game, but were unable to get the ball in Esteban's net despite countless scoring chances throughout the game. Caretaker manager Carles Rexach picked a surprisingly defensive line up given that they were up against the second worse away side in the league, with four at the back and Kluivert, now more or less back in favour with the fans, back up front. After a minute's silence in memory of their ex goalkeeper and popular radio commentator Urruti, killed in a car crash in Barcelona midweek, the game started at a rapid pace. Kluivert appeared to have scored on the quarter out mark when he lifted Cocu's pass over the keeper, but referee Pérez Lasa incorrectly ruled out the goal for a non-existent foul on Esteban. The Oviedo keeper was on top form as he saved from a low Guardiola free kick and a shot from Overmars, and the teams went in at the break all square.

Two minutes after the interval though Oviedo caught Barcelona on the hop with their first real attack of the match, an unmarked Jaime shooting past the surprised Dutruel after Oli dummied over Paunovic's cross. Barça threw everything forward and Rivaldo brushed the post with a shot, but Oviedo could have increased their lead if Paunovic had been more on target. Rexach brought on Zenden, but his side were reduced to ten men when Luis Enrique kicked out in frustration at Onopko after Pérez Lasa turned down his appeal for a penalty. It was a silly thing to do, and the Spanish midfielder may well be given a heavy ban when the disciplinary committee meet midweek. Still the home side came forward as Radomir Antic pulled his players back to protect their lead, and after De Boer brushed the crossbar with a free kick, Esteban produced the save of the match from Kluivert.

The crowd though had had enough, and even Guardiola was whistled at by fans as he was replaced by Petit. In the end a disastrous result for Barcelona, and with Valencia picking up a point and Mallorca three, their only hope of playing in the Champions League next season is if they pick up more points than Valencia in the next match, and then beat the European sub-champions in the last match. Right now nobody believes that will happen, and although they will almost certainly be in the UEFA cup, the financial loss for the club could be enormous. Oviedo couldn't believe their luck, and having been written off last week as favourites for relegation, they now find themselves four points clear of the drop zone in fifteenth place. With Real Madrid and Mallorca to come, both of whom have nothing to play for having finished as league champions and qualified for the Champions League respectively, Antic's team look like being in the top flight again next season.