Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Barcelona held to an unconvincing draw in Santander


Coach Frank Rijkaard didn't start with his "Fantastic Four" and FC Barcelona was held to an unconvincing 0-0 draw against 10-man Racing Santander on Sunday in the first round of the Spanish first division.

New signing Thierry Henry entered as a 62nd-minute substitute for Lionel Messi but the former Arsenal striker's presence alongside Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o created only a few scoring chances for Barcelona.

Barcelona was handed an advantage in the 68th when striker Euzebiusz Smolarek earned a red card in his debut.

Henry fired just wide with his first touch inside the box four minutes later, but the striker was offside. The France striker also hit the post in the 86th.

"It's the first game of the season, it's not the end of the world," Rijkaard said.

US-born striker Giusepe Rossi converted a penalty while Jon Dahl Tomasson and Santiago Cazorla added the others to lead Villarreal over 10-man Valencia 3-0 at the Mestalla stadium. Striker David Villa was ejected in the 40th minute with his team trailing 1-0 after receiving his second yellow card.

Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta was breathing with the help of a respirator and in "very serious" condition on Sunday after suffering two heart attacks during his team's 4-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Spain defender lost consciousness and fell near his own goal in the 31st minute, but was able to walk off minutes later after being treated by team doctors. Puerta again lost consciousness in the dressing room and was rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted to an intensive care unit.

Barcelona needed a victory to keep pace with defending champion Real Madrid, which rallied for a 2-1 win over crosstown rival Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Wesley Sneijder scored the winner in manager Bernd Schuster's debut.

Racing pressured Barcelona early, forcing goalkeeper Victor Valdes to deny Pedro Munitis and Aldo Pedro Duscher inside nine minutes.

In the 22nd, Munitis raced to a through ball only for his low drive to beat Valdes but bounce off the far post.

Barcelona answered at the end of the half with Xavi Hernandez chipping over Racing goalkeeper Antonio "Tono" Martinez in the 45th, but the ball was cleared off the line before Messi forced a diving save in the ensuing melee.

Ronaldinho's curling free kick just missed in the 61st, prompting Rijkaard to bring on Henry.

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