Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Atletico Madrid ties with Barca on Aguero's goal


FC Barcelona midfielder Deco, right, duels for the ball with Atletico Madrid player Miguel Martinez during their Spanish leagues soccer match in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday


Sergio Aguero's goal in the 60th minute on Thursday earned Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw with FC Barcelona and left the defending Spanish champion three points off the lead.

Ronaldinho's trademark free kick -- his 12th goal of the season -- opened the scoring in the final Spanish league match of this year.

Barcelona's draw at its Camp Nou stadium continued a disappointing week.

On Sunday, the European champion lost 1-0 to Brazil's Internacional in the Club World Cup final in Japan.

Sevilla ends the year as league leader with 37 points from 16 games, while Barcelona has 34 with a game in hand. Real Madrid is third with 32 points.

Atletico climbed to fourth place with 28, one more than Zaragoza and Valencia.

Ronaldinho struck in the 41st minute of a first half dominated by Barcelona, dipping his free kick from outside the area to elude diving Atletico goalkeeper Leo Franco.

The Brazil forward is the league's second top scorer, two goals behind Sevilla's Frederic Kanoute.

Atletico, which has won two and drawn one in its previous three visits to Barcelona, leveled when Aguero raced on to midfielder Peter Luccin's through ball and flicked it past Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

The goal was the fourth by the 18-year-old Argentine this season, his first in Spain following his 22 million euro (US$28 million) transfer from Independiente.

Barcelona, already without the sidelined Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi and Gianluca Zambrotta, lost defender Lilian Thuram to injury immediately after Atletico's equalizer.

The match at Camp Nou was preceded briefly by somber music -- as at all of Wednesday's games -- played in tribute to the four Recreativo Huelva supporters killed in a bus crash during the journey to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Thirty-five fans were also injured in the accident.

On Wednesday, Sevilla trounced Deportivo La Coruna 4-0, while Madrid suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Recreativo.

In other results from the 16th round, Valencia beat Mallorca 3-1, Zaragoza tied with Athletic Bilbao 0-0, Espanyol beat Getafe 1-0, Real Betis beat Gimnastic Tarragona 1-0, Celta Vigo tied with Real Sociedad 0-0, Osasuna beat Levante 2-0 and Racing Santander got the best of Villarreal 2-1.

Meanwhile, Barcelona reported that Ronaldinho should receive Spanish citizenship early next year, making him eligible to play for the soccer team as a player from the European Union.

The 26-year-old Brazilian forward delivered documents to a court in Gava, Barcelona on Wednesday and is awaiting the call to swear allegiance to the Spanish Constitution, news reports said Thursday.

With Mexico defender Rafael Marquez gaining Spanish citizenship last month, Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon is likely to soon be Barcelona's only non EU player.

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