First Division - Day 6

Barcelona 3 - Sevilla 1

Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Belletti (Zambrotta 29'), Puyol, Thuram, Sylvinho; Xavi, Motta, Iniesta; Messi, Gudjohnsen (Saviola 83'), Ronaldinho (Giuly 73'). 4-3-3.
Sevilla: Palop; Daniel Alves, Javi Navarro, Escudé, Antonio Puerta (Dragutinovic 46'); Jesús Navas, Poulsen, Renato (Kepa 85'), Adriano; Kanouté, Luis Fabiano (Martí 46'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Barça: Belletti, Thuram, Sylvinho, Motta, Iniesta for Zambrotta, Márquez, Van Bronckhorst, Edmilson, Deco / Sevilla: Javi Navarro, Escudé for Aitor Ocio, Dragutinovic.

1-0. 27. Ronaldinho (penalty). After Belletti tripped by Escudé inside area.
1-1. 37. Kanouté. Steered header down past Valdés after Renato headed across.
2-1. 39. Ronaldinho. Bent long free kick over defensive wall and inside post.
3-1. 81. Messi. Picked up Xavi pass and cut past defenders to shoot past Palop.

Barcelona moved three points clear at the top of the table after a 3-1 victory over fourth placed Sevilla on Sunday night. It was a rematch between the two European champions, with the home side looking for revenge after their thrashing in the Supercup, but once again cameras were not allowed in due to Sevilla's dispute with the television companies, and a reasonable crowd of 91,000 turned to watch the match. Both teams were due to play in Europe this week, with Barça due to visit Chelsea and their opponents away at Slovan, but whereas Frank Rijkaard made five changes, Juande Ramos put out his strongest line up.

There was talk beforehand as to whether Ronaldinho had gone off the boil, but the Brazilian star tested Palop with a long shot and then set up Sylvinho with a clever back-heel for him to shoot just wide. The Andalusians felt themselves unlucky to have a goal disallowed when Escudé was ruled to have fouled Motta as the two appeared to jointly head a corner into the top of the net, and only a minute later Escudé gave away a penalty at the other end after bringing down Belletti, who had to be substituted as a result.

Ronaldinho tucked away his spot kick, but that inspired the visitors, Valdés just getting down to save an Alves header before Kanouté headed an equaliser after Renato set him up. Their joy only lasted two minutes though before Ronaldinho restored the lead with a trademark free kick, and Juande Ramos was sent to the stands by referee Muñiz Fernandez after complaining at half time about the disallowed goal and the penalty.

The pace dropped off after the restart, both sides saving some energy for their midweek exertions. Poulsen fired a shot over the top, Motta shot wide of the target at the other end and Kanout'e had another penalty claim turned down. The game appeared to be petering out, but with ten minutes to go Messi put the icing on the cake with an individualist goal, picking up a pass from Xavi before slipping past two or three defenders and beating Palop for a third time. Barça had their the revenge for the defeat in the European Supercup, and with visits to Chelsea and Real Madrid to come in the next week they are sitting once again at the top of the pile.