First Division - Day 26

Barcelona 3 - Deportivo La Coruña 2

Barcelona: Reina; Puyol, Christanval (Andersson 62'), Frank De Boer, Sergi; Luis Enrique (Rochemback 69'), Cocu, Motta; Rivaldo; Kluivert, Saviola (Reiziger 91'). 4-3-1-2.
Deportivo: Molina; Scaloni, César, Naybet, Capdevila; Duscher, Mauro Silva; Víctor (Djalminha 82'), Valerón (Sergio 62'), Amavisca; Diego Tristán (Makaay 80'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barcelona: Luis Enrique, Motta, Saviola for Gabri, Rochemback, Xavi / Deportivo: César, Mauro Silva, Amavisca for Donato, Sergio, Fran.

0-1. 11. Diego Tristán. Controlled Víctor's cross and beat Reina from edge of area.
1-1. 17. Luis Enrique. Forced ball in off Capdevila from Rivaldo free kick.
1-2. 67. Sergio. Headed long Víctor cross over Reina into top corner of net.
2-2. 73. Saviola. Finished off after Rivaldo juggled ball and lobbed Molina.
3-2. 87. Kluivert. Diving header on far post after left foot cross from Puyol.

Barcelona move up to third in table after an exciting 3-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruña on a rainy Saturday night. The Catalans had to come from behind twice but eventually won the game with a diving header from Patrick Kluivert just three minutes from the end. Both managers put out strong line ups despite important Champions League matches against Italian rivals midweek, with Luis Enrique returning for Rexach's side and B team youngster Motta getting a chance to shine in front of Brazil's manager Scolari, who had been attending the Planet Fútbol trade fair in Barcelona. That meant no place for Xavi and Gabri who had to watch the game from the substitutes' bench. Irureta was expected to play Djalminha and Makaay up front to take advantage of their pace against a slow Barcelona defence, but in the end he put out his first choice pairing of Valerón and Diego Tristán, with Sergio left on the bench as Mauro Silva returned in midfield. The players lined up with T-shirts in support of Donato, who will be out to the end of the season with an Achilles' tendon injury.

Barcelona came out strongly, looking to impress the crowd after their disappointing draw at Mallorca last week, and Molina did well to turn Saviola's shot away from point blank range in the opening minutes. The keeper misjudged the resulting corner though, and Scaloni had to clear off the line. But then Depor took the lead with almost their first foray over the halfway line, Diego Tristán controlling Víctor's cross and beating Christanval before coolly slotting the ball past Reina. Valerón missed a chance to make it two, but after Molina tipped a Rivaldo shot over the bar, Barça drew level, Luis Enrique getting on the end of Rivaldo's free kick to force the ball in off Capdevila.

Both sides had scoring chances early in the second half, with Saviola shooting just over and Diego Tristán heading just wide, and then Kluivert broke free only to see his shot go wide. Irureta seemed to be settling for a draw when he brought on Sergio for Valerón, but the ex Espanyol midfielder hushed the crowd with a looping header from Víctor's cross only minutes later to put the Gallicians back in front and take them momentarily to the top of the first division. But then a piece of magic from Rivaldo set the home supporters alight, catching a long ball on his left foot without letting it hit the ground and lifting it first over the defender and then the keeper. His shot seemed to be going wide, but Saviola appeared on the far post to turn it into the net, Naybet heading it away but only after the ball had crossed the line. Barcelona were on the rampage and Saviola and Rivaldo should both have scored in consecutive attacks. But then Kluivert appeared from nowhere to meet Puyol's cross and head the winner, taking them level with Real Madrid on points and goal difference. Deportivo drop out of the top six to seventh place, still only three points though from the leaders.