Tue, Dec 02, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Death overshadows Barca win

‘DESPICABLE’:A 43-year-old Deportivo fan died of injuries sustained in a fight ahead of his side’s match against Atletico at the Estadio Vicente Calderon

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Barcelona’s Neymar, front, controls the ball as Valencia’s Antonio Barragan looks on in their La Liga match at the Estadio Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Sergio Busquets scored deep in stoppage-time to give Barcelona a 1-0 win at Valencia that was overshadowed by a fan’s death following a violent clash between supporters of Atletico Madrid and RC Deportivo de La Coruna on Sunday.

Busquets blasted in a rebound to secure the victory at the Estadio Mestalla that kept Barcelona two points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

Third-placed Atletico prevailed 2-0 over Deportivo shortly before Madrid’s Clinico San Carlos hospital said a man had died of injuries sustained after a fight erupted between rival groups early on Sunday morning near the Estadio Vicente Calderon. The man was identified only as a 43-year-old Deportivo fan.

Sevilla moved ahead of Valencia into fourth place and Spain’s last UEFA Champions League spot after routing visitors Granada 5-1, with striker Carlos Bacca leading the way with two goals.

Lionel Messi started Barcelona’s game-clinching move with a lobbed pass which Neymar headed powerfully at goalkeeper Diego Alves, who did well to turn back the ball, only for Busquets to drill it right back past him.

“We were lucky in the last minute to grab the three points,” Busquets said.

“A draw is never enough and we had to try until the very end,” he said.

Messi appeared to be hit on the head by a water bottle thrown from the stands, while his teammates piled on top of one another to celebrate the winning goal. The Argentine rubbed his head following the incident, but appeared to be unhurt.

Barcelona would never have been in position to press for the victory were it not for Gerard Pique clearing Rodrigo Moreno’s shot from the goal-line before goalkeeper Claudio Bravo saved one-on-one situations against Sofiane Feghouli and Alvaro Negredo in the second half.

In the capital, authorities said the man who later died in hospital was initially retrieved from Madrid’s Manzanares River, where the street fight between fans started at 9am. The game started as scheduled three hours later.

Police said they had made 24 arrests among four radical groups linked to soccer clubs.

The man died in hospital shortly after the match ended, and the public announcer asked Deportivo’s traveling fans to remain seated after the final whistle.

“Today is one of the saddest for Spanish football in recent years. It has been despicable,” Deportivo coach Victor Fernandez said.

Atletico said in a statement that the club condemned the violence.

“We want to make clear that we had nothing at all to do with these events,” Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said.

“We always seek peace [between clubs],” he added.

In the match, Saul Niguez headed Atletico in front in the 43rd minute, turning in a free-kick flicked on by striker Mario Mandzukic, who had hit the post earlier.

Midfielder Arda Turan sealed the points in the 55th minute with a long-distance strike that glanced off a defender and went into the net.

Sevilla had little trouble keeping Granada winless for nine straight matches.

Bacca scrambled in a ball which Granada goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez had spilled under duress to put Sevilla on their way in the 24th minute.

Granada’s Youssef El Arabi leveled from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute after Stephane Mbia had handled the ball, but Ever Banega scored seconds after hitting the bar to restore the hosts’ advantage in the 60th, before Bacca got his double in the 79th.

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