First Division - Day 9

Deportivo La Coruña 1 - Barcelona 1

Deportivo: Dudu Aouate; Arbeloa, Juanma, Lopo, Capdevila; Sergio (Estoyanoff 67'), Coloccini (Juan Rodríguez 46'); Arizmendi, Verdú, Cristian; Riki (Adrián 68'). 4-2-3-1.
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Zambrotta, Thuram (Oleguer 68'), Márquez, Van Bronckhorst (Belletti 83'); Iniesta, Edmilson, Deco; Messi, Saviola (Giuly 54'), Ronaldinho. 4-3-3.

Team changes: Depor: Juanma, Cristian for Barragán, Felipe / Barça: Zambrotta, Thuram, Van Bronckhorst, Iniesta, Messi, Saviola for Belletti, Puyol, Sylvinho, Xavi, Giuly, Gudjohnsen.

0-1. 40. Ronaldinho (penalty). After Juanma brought down Saviola from behind.
1-1. 73. Juan Rodríguez. Following up after Valdés saved Estoyanoff penalty.

Leaders Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at Deportivo La Coruña, and could be off the top of the table by the end of the weekend if Sevilla win on Sunday. The Galicians had the better chances early on, with Arizmendi and Verdú both coming up against Víctor Valdés. But five minutes before the break Saviola was barged over from behind by Juanma inside the penalty area, and Ronaldinho (who had been lucky to be let off a red card by referee Medina Cantalejo a few minutes before) converted the resulting spot kick.

Lopo came close to equalising with a header following a corner a couple of minutes later, and Deco whipped a shot just wide of the post at the other end before the half time whistle. Sergio fired a free kick over the bar after the restart, and a good run by Iniesta ended with him being foiled by keeper Dudu Aouate. And Valdés did well to hold on to the ball in another goalmouth scramble as the hosts pushed forward looking to protect their 100% home record this season.

Caparrós turned to Estoyanoff, and the Uruguayan started to cause some problems for the visiting defence, who were missing Puyol after the tragic death of his father in an accident at his work. With twenty minutes to go Verdú was put through on goal before being brought down by Edmilson, and Medina pointed to the spot once again. Valdés guessed correctly and parried Estoyanoff's kick, but Juan Rodríguez reacted quicker than anyone to force the ball past the keeper and in to the net.

Either side could have scored after that, Messi shooting just wide after Ronaldinho set him up, and Cristian heading just past the post soon afterwards. But in the end a draw was a fair result, leaving the Catalans on top of the table for another day at least, and their opponents just a point outside of the European places.