First Division - Day 17

Barcelona 1 - Celta Vigo 1

Barcelona: Rüstü; Reiziger (Oscar López 46'), Puyol, Andersson, Van Bronckhorst (Saviola 64'); Xavi, Cocu; Gabri (Luis García 30'), Ronaldinho, Overmars; Kluivert. 4-2-3-1.
Celta: Cavallero; Angel, Cáceres, Berizzo, Contreras, Sylvinho (Juanfran 38', Manolo 56'); Jesuli, Luccin, José Ignacio, Gustavo López (Giovanella 65'); Milosevic. 5-4-1.

Team changes: Barça: Puyol, Andersson for Márquez, Quaresma / Celta: Contreras for Juanfran.

0-1. 17. Jesuli. Shot into empty net after Rüstü gave ball away to Milosevic.
1-1. 69. Cocu. Scrambled ball into net off José Ignacio following corner.

Barcelona missed out on the opportunity to move up level with fourth placed Osasuna after they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Celta. It was a match that the Catalans should have won by a mile given the chances they had, but between keeper Cavallero, off-target shooting and sheer bad luck they were unable to get more than one goal during the whole ninety minutes.

Rijkaard decided to give Patrik Andersson a last run out before his move to Malmoe, and his inclusion together with the return of Puyol meant that Gabri and Cocu moved up to midfield. Gabri only just passed a late fitness test to make the side, but his recent lack of practise up front caused him to run the ball too far when Ronaldinho put him through early on. Xavi hit the bar soon afterwards with a dipping shot as the home side kept up the pressure, but with a quarter of an hour gone they found themselves behind thanks to a monumental error from Rüstü. The Turkish keeper spoilt his home league debut by failing to control Puyol's back pass, allowing Milosevic to win the ball off him and set up Jesuli for the easiest of goals.

The keeper made up for his mistake with a couple of good saves later on, but otherwise it was all Barça as they tried everything to come back, including one bit of cheek from Ronaldinho when he hooked the ball out of Cavallero's hands as he was bouncing it and tapped it in to the net, only to get himself booked for his troubles. Kluivert saw one effort saved by an outstretched foot from the keeper, and had another disallowed before the break, supposedly for a previous foul by Andersson.

Although it was not a dirty match, there were several injuries early on, Gabri, Reiziger and Sylvinho all having to go off before the break, Puyol valiantly playing all the second half with his arm in a sling after damaging his shoulder and Sylvinho's replacement Juanfran being replaced himself after he twisted his knee. Rijkaard's last change was to bring on an extra attacker, Saviola for Van Bronckhorst, and soon afterwards they got the equaliser they were looking for, a messy goal when Cocu and José Ignacio both went for the ball as it fell to earth following a corner, the ball bouncing in to the net off Cocu's foot.

Either side could have won it in the final minutes, but in the end it was a point apiece which kept the visitors two points above the bottom three. But Barcelona must feel that they dropped another two points in the Nou Camp, making it seventeen in all which have flown away at home. Cocu summed it up by saying he even thought fourth place was going to be difficult to achieve this season, but that has to be their minimum objective. A club that size can't afford to be out of the Champions' League for two seasons in a row.