Barça set for first trophy after Real destruction

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The Independent Football

Superbly-crafted second-half strikes from the French winger Ludovic Giuly and last season's leading scorer Samuel Eto'o, as well as a stunning free-kick by Ronaldinho, gave the Catalans a great advantage in their quest to secure the season's first trophy. "It was a very important victory for us," said the Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard. "But it is only one game."

The Dutchman's side signalled their attacking intentions from the first whistle, with midfielder Xavi firing a long-distance effort a metre wide of the post.

Joaquin responded for Betis after 20 minutes when he danced his way past four Barca players and sent a delicate dink just past the post, with the keeper Victor Valdes beaten.

The visitors finally broke the deadlock two minutes after the break thanks to a magnificently disguised pass from Ronaldinho, who, according to his agent, will sign a lucrative new contract before the end of the month, and an ice-cool finish from Giuly through Toni Doblas's legs.

Betis were denied an equaliser when Valdes produced a superb reflex save low to his right to stop a header from Ricardo Oliveira. But Barca extended their lead soon after when Eto'o slotted home. Ronaldinho added the icing on the cake just after the hour when he struck a dipping free-kick over the wall and into the net.

The Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate will have to start his comeback from a 16-month injury lay-off by playing alongside 14-year-old boys from the club's youth team set-up, says coach Wanderley Luxemburgo.

Woodgate took part in the club's pre-season training camp in Austria but Luxemburgo says the England defender is still a long way from making his full Real Madrid debut. "Woody will have to begin by playing alongside boys of 14 and 15 years old who are weaker and not as tough," the Brazilian coach said. "Then he can go on to play alongside the 16- and 17-year-olds and then with the reserves in the second division."

Pedro Pauleta netted in each half against 10-man Toulouse to ensure Paris St-Germain maintained their 100 per cent start to the new French Ligue 1 season with a 2-0 win. Auxerre continued their impressive start with a 1-0 win against Bordeaux at the Stade Abbe Deschamps. Luigi Pieroni scored the winner.