First Division - Day 18

Espanyol 1 - Barcelona 2

Espanyol: Kameni; Zabaleta (Juanfran 58'), Jarque, Lopo, Domi; Edu Costa, Fredson; Armando Sá, Luis García (Corominas 58'), De la Peña; Tamudo. 4-2-3-1.
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Belletti, Oleguer, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst; Deco (Van Bommel 58'), Edmilson, Motta (Iniesta 87'); Messi (Larsson 78'), Eto'o, Ronaldinho. 4-3-3.

Team changes: Espanyol: Zabaleta, Domi, Armando Sá for Moisés Hurtado, David García, Ito / Barça: Belletti, Motta for Márquez, Iniesta.

0-1. 44. Deco. Cut past defender and fired long shot through hands of Kameni.
0-2. 47. Eto'o. Picked up Ronaldinho pass and ran on to shoot wide of keeper.
1-2. 60. Tamudo. Controlled Fredson cross on chest and lifted ball past Valdés.

Goals either side of half time by Deco and Eto'o clinched victory for Barcelona at rain-soaked Montjuic against a spirited Espanyol.

The home side were the first to threaten after five minutes when De la Peña released Tamudo on the right and his cross was hooked clear by Belletti after Valdes failed to hold. The same two players soon combined again but Tamudo fired wildly over. Edmilson wasted a good chance for Barça who found themselves four on four at the edge of the penalty box. But he chose the wrong option with a wayward shot.

By now Barcelona were enjoying much of the possession and had an even better chance to open the scoring after 20 minutes. A Messi long ball split the home defence and Belletti looked stunned to find himself in the clear. His dummy left Kameni floundering on the deck but when the Brazilian pulled the trigger the Cameroon keeper produced a fine one-handed save.

Messi had a good opportunity after linking with Deco but his lob landed on top of the net. De la Peña may have done just enough to put Messi off. Espanyol responded with a powerful long-range free kick from Fredson but it was straight at Valdes.

With the Olympic Stadium beginning to resemble a swimming pool it was no great surprise when a goal came from a goalkeeping error. Kameni had done well to turn away a Ronaldinho free kick but he then totally misjudged a Deco drive that bounced over his body before landing in the net.

Shortly after the restart it looked all but over. Barcelona president Joan Laporta hadn't even taken his seat when Ronaldinho fed Eto'o and the Cameroon striker buried a low shot past his compatriot in the Espanyol goal. It is a startling statistic that Eto'o has scored more goals this season than the entire Espanyol side.

This phase of the match starred the Cameroon duo as Kameni raced from goal to deny Eto'o. The goalkeeper was a bit lucky to stay on the pitch as he appeared to block with an arm outside the box. Deco should have scored from the rebound but with the goal gaping his casual effort landed just the wrong side of the post. It was to be the Portuguese midfielder's last significant contribution to the game. He was carried off following a clash of heads with teammate Motta.

Espanyol got back in the game on the hour mark when Tamudo chested down an excellent Fredson pass and coolly hooked the ball past Valdes. Despite enjoying more second half possession Espanyol failed to put pressure on the visitors as Kameni blocked another Eto'o effort from point blank range in the closing stages.