Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Eto'o back but Barca only manage 0-0 draw

REAL REELING While the champions only managed a point at Osasuna, their main rivals fared no better, Sevilla drawing and Real Madrid losing at home to lowly Levante

AFP , MADRID

PHOTO: REUTERS

League leaders Barcelona missed their chance to put daylight between themselves and the rest of the Spanish title contenders when they were held to a 0-0 draw at Osasuna on Sunday.

The reigning Spanish champions retain a one point lead at the top of La Liga after their nearest rivals Sevilla were also held to a 0-0 draw by struggling Real Sociedad.

Meanwhile, the problems of Real Madrid continued with an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at home to lowly Levante.

Barca, without the injured Ronaldinho, had the better of an entertaining game despite the lack of goal opportunities with their two best chances both falling to Javier Saviola, but the Argentine striker couldn't find the net.

Samuel Eto'o, last season's top scorer in the Spanish first division and the three-time African Player of the Year, came on as a substitute for Barca five minutes before the end.

The Cameroon international had been out of action for the last four months with a knee injury but not even his return could inspire the Catalan visitors to victory.

Sevilla coach Juande Ramos must be regretting his decision to rest Fredi Kanoute, this season's leading scorer.

Ramos, clearly believing that he would have enough firepower with his other forwards, gave Kanoute the day off after starting every league game this season.

However, the closest Sevilla came to scoring against Real Sociedad was when their recent Russian acquisition Alexander Kerzhakov hit the crossbar midway through the first half.

"The team wasn't playing as well as in other recent games. I think we were drained after Thursday's Cup match against Real Betis," said Ramos, reflecting on the tense local derby which ended in a 0-0 draw.

"We dominated possession but never got that opening goal which would have settled us and perhaps changed the course of the game," he said.

Despite the useful point, Sociedad remain second from bottom and are staring at second division football for the first time in 40 years.

Real Madrid's erratic season continued with a 1-0 loss at home to Levante in what was the 1000th match to be played at their historic Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

The only goal of the game came from a Salva Ballesta penalty after 10 minutes.

"We had six or seven chances to score a goal and three penalties were not given. They had one shot on goal, the result was unfair," whined Real coach Fabio Capello.

Malian midfielder Mahamadou Diarra clumsily fouled Damiano Tommasi in the area and the former Spanish international marked his debut for Levante, after signing on the last day of the transfer window, by making no mistake from the spot.

Real threw everything at Levante in the second half but some solid defending by the visitors from Valencia, not least by their former Spanish international goalkeeper Francisco Molina, thwarted the Spanish giants.

"We played well in the air. We also had bad luck when a shot went off the post," said Capello, who had to face the wrath of the near-capacity 75,000 crowd calling for his head at the end of the game.

Real's third home defeat of the season leaves them in fourth place, five points behind Barcelona, while Levante remain third from bottom and still in relegation trouble.

David Beckham, who has been left out in the cold by Capello since he announced he was going to move to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer, watched the game from the VIP seats.

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