First Division - Day 31

Villarreal 2 - Barcelona 0

Villarreal: Viera; Javi Venta, Fuentes, Cygan, José Enrique; Josico (Tacchinardi 62'), Marcos Senna; Pires (José Marí 69'), Cani, Marcos García; Diego Forlán (Arruabarrena 89'). 4-2-3-1.
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Zambrotta, Puyol, Thuram, Sylvinho (Gudjohnsen 73'); Iniesta, Xavi, Deco; Messi, Eto'o, Ronaldinho. 4-3-3.

Team changes: Villarreal: Javi Venta, Fuentes, Pires, Josico, Cani, Diego Forlán for Josemi, Gonzalo, Matias Fernández, Somoza, Tomasson, Guille Franco / Barça: Sylvinho, Xavi, Ronaldinho for Van Bronckhorst, Márquez, Giuly.

1-0. 56. Pires. Ran on to Cani pass and struck angled shot wide of Valdés.
2-0. 85. Marcos García. Low shot past Valdés after Cani passed across.

The title race was thrown wide open after Barcelona were beaten 2-0 by Villarreal in the last match on Sunday night, and Sevilla and Real Madrid are now only one and two points respectively off the leaders. All eyes were on Barça's attack, especially as Ronaldinho was back in the side after missing the semi-final cup win against Getafe midweek. But Frank Rijkaard's side missed several chances in the first half, particularly from Eto'o and Ronaldinho late on, and the locals themselves could have taken the lead had Forlán and Josico not missed the target a couple of times.

Ten minutes after the restart though Villarreal went ahead with a move which started in their own penalty area, Pires running on to Cani's through ball to beat Valdés with an angled shot. Rijkaard brought on Gudjohnsen to join the front three, and he brought a good save out of Viera. But with five minutes to go Marcos got the second after Forlán and Cani played on a long throw, and although Ronaldinho hit the bar in the dying minutes with a quickly taken free kick he was unable to prevent his side's fourth away defeat in five games.