|First Division - Day 16|
Espanyol 1 - Barcelona 3
Tayfun (Maxi 46'), Soldevilla, Domoraud, Lopo, Wome; Jordi Cruyff, Morales
(Velamazán 52'), Alex Fernández (Oscar 70'), De la Peña;
Team changes: Espanyol: Lopo, Jordi Cruyff for Jarque, Maxi / Barça: Rüstü, Márquez, Quaresma, Ronaldinho, Overmars for Víctor Valdés, Puyol, Motta, Gerard, Luis García.
An extraordinary derby match in the Montjuic stadium, where both sides finished with eight men as Barcelona beat bottom club Espanyol 1-3. The game saw the return of Ronaldinho to the Barça side despite not having fully shaken off a bout of flu, and with only one point from the last four games Rijkaard made four more changes as well, the most notable of which was the league debut of Rüstü in goal.
The visitors had the better chances at first, with Kluivert through but incorrectly pulled up for offside and Overmars lobbing keeper Toni only to see his effort hooked off the line by Soldevilla. But it was two ex Barcelona players Iván De la Peña and Jordi Cruyff who combined to open the scoring, the latter getting ahead of Cocu to head home the former's free kick.
A minute later though Barça were level after an Overmars cross was laid back by Kluivert, Ronaldinho's shot taking a wicked deflection off Soldevilla to deceive Toni. And ten minutes later the visitors took the lead, Kluivert's effort from Gabri's cross being blocked at point blank range by Toni at first, but the Dutch striker poking the rebound into the net from a tight angle.
Worse was to come for the home side, Kluivert making it three on the half hour mark when Toni dropped Ronaldinho's cross at his feet. And the crowd threatened to invade the pitch when referee Pino Zamorano turned down a penalty appeal for a hand ball by Márquez, and then sent off De la Peña for a scything tackle on Reiziger. Espanyol could well have got a goal back before the break though when Soldevilla headed a free kick against the post and Lopo put the rebound wide.
Pino Zamorano was the main protagonist after the break though, leaving Barcelona with nine men after sending off Márquez and then Quaresma for rigorous second bookings within five minutes of the restart. Overmars should still have scored when he left Wome for dead but couldn't get past Toni minutes later.
The referee appeared again to send off one more on each side, first of all Soldevilla for a second yellow card after a clash with Gerard and then Cocu for bringing down Tamudo with a rugby tackle as he advanced on goal. Luis Enrique came on and missed the easiest chance of the season when Gabri presented him with an open goal on a breakaway, and Velamazan and Wome both could have scored at the other end.
But Pino Zamorano had the last word when he sent off Lopo late on, also for a second booking, making it a league record six red cards. Espanyol ended the day further down at the bottom of the table, and Barcelona moved back up close to the European spots, glad that the return of Ronaldinho signalled a return to winning ways. But all the headlines were about the referee.