First Division - Day 20

Barcelona 3 - Sevilla 1

Barcelona: Reina; Puyol, Christanval (Rochemback 70'), Frank De Boer, Sergi; Gabri, Xavi, Cocu (Gerard 81'); Kluivert; Saviola, Rivaldo (Geovanni 85'). 4-3-1-2.
Sevilla: Notario; Njegus, Juanmi, Pablo Alfaro, David; Gallardo (Mario 75'), Casquero, Francisco (Olivera 66'), Tomás; Víctor Sales, Luis Gil (Toedtli 46'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Barcelona: No change / Sevilla: Juanmi, Gallardo, Tomás, Víctor Sales, Luis Gil for Javi Navarro, Mario, Fredi, Reyes, Moisés.

0-1. 04. Tomás. Pushed ball past keeper after Alfaro headed on long throw.
1-1. 07. Rivaldo. Took back-heel pass from Kluivert and beat man before scoring. . 2-1. 57. Gabri. Following up after Notario blocked Rivaldo free kick.
3-1. 61. Rivaldo. Free kick from outside of area which caught Notario wrong-footed.

Barcelona helped manager Charly Rexach celebrate his 55th birthday with a 3-1 victory over Sevilla in the Nou Camp on Sunday evening. Rexach was able to put out the same side who defeated Zaragoza the week before, but his opposite number Joaquín Capparós was forced to make numerous changes, in particular in the forward line where both of his first choice strikers were out, Reyes through injury and Moisés with his second suspension of the season. As a result he drafted in Luis Gil and youngster Víctor up front, and Tomás also came in to the line up at the last minute when Fredi dropped out after feeling a twinge in his injured ankle in the pre-match warm up.

Tomás took advantage of his rare start however to put his side in front in the fourth minute, finishing off after Alfaro headed on a long throw. There were timid whistles from the crowd as it looked as though Barça were going to repeat their recent disappointing performances, but before they got too loud Rivaldo levelled the scores with a well taken goal, taking Kluivert's clever back-heel pass and leaving a defender for dead before driving the ball wide of Notario. After that the home side settled down, and Rivaldo (playing in only his ninth league game of the season) won himself a penalty when Alfaro brought him down in the area. However Notario guessed right and stopped his spot kick, the first time that a keeper has saved a penalty from the Brazilian star since he started playing in Spain. Barça kept up the pressure though, with Cocu bringing a good save out of Notario and then seeing another spectacular overhead kick hit the bar.

Caparrós brought on Toedtli for Luis Gil at the break, but with Puyol and Sergi making inroads down the wings most of the play was in the Andalucians half. Finally Gabri put Barcelona ahead after Notario could only parry Rivaldo's free kick, although the Sevilla players protested as the linesman raised his flag for offside at first. Four minutes later though Rivaldo added his second of the night from another free kick, Notario misreading it and going the other way before reacting too late. Notario and Alfaro kept the score respectable with stops from Sergi and Kluivert, but the points were in the bag and Barcelona move up to fourth in the table, a point behind second placed Bilbao. Sevilla drop a place to eleventh, but they are playing well and are in line to achieve their main objective this season, consolidating their position in the top flight.