Barcelona 3 Deportivo La Coruna 2: Ronaldinho scintillating in Deportivo defeat

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The Independent Football

Barcelona go into tomorrow's Champions' League knock-out second leg against Chelsea in confident mood after a victory against Deportivo La Coruña.

Barça had the perfect start, taking the lead in the third minute when Ronaldinho sent a free-kick over the visiting wall into the top corner of Jose Molina's goal for his 14th league goal of the season.

Yet the Galicians, boasting the league's second-best away record after the champions, punished some slack defending and scored twice with headers from centre-backs Juanma and Jorge Andrade.

Juanma's equaliser came after he outjumped the Catalan defence in the 14th minute to head home a corner. In the 27th minute, Andrade headed a Pedro Munitis free-kick past Victor Valdes. Andrade was later taken off on a stretcher after tearing a knee tendon. The Portuguese international is likely to miss the World Cup.

Deportivo's lead lasted six minutes, Barça drawing level when Henrik Larsson got ahead of Juanmo to powerfully head in a corner from Ronaldinho. The world player of the year was the game's outstanding performer, his passing and trickery almost faultless.

Barcelona's winner came 16 minutes into the second half when Samuel Eto'o ended a week in which he made headlines because of the racism he suffered in Zaragoza with his 19th league goal of the season. He stabbed in a low Ronaldinho corner after Rafael Marquez, positioned by the front post, cleverly allowed the ball to run under him into the Cameroonian's path.

Eto'o ran to a group of compatriots waving Cameroon flags. Several home fans also brought banners declaring their affection for the thrice African footballer of the year.

Lionel Messi, the player of the moment, was rested ahead of the Chelsea game. With Barça's players briefed to say little or nothing about Chelsea, their coach, Frank Rijkaard, said: "We've learned important lessons ahead of Tuesday and we'll pay attention to certain details. But we learned them by winning, which helps confidence."

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Sylvinho, Marquez, Puyol, Belletti (Oleguer, 76); Edmilson, Iniesta (Van Bommel, 45), Deco; Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Larsson (Giuly, 63). Substitutes not used: Jorquera (gk), Motta, Van Bronkhorst, Ezquerro.

Deportivo La Coruña (4-2-3-1): Molina; Manuel Pablo, Andrade (Cesar, 59), Juanma, Capdevila; Sergio, Duscher (De Guzman, 45); Munitis, Romero (Tristan, 56), Victor; Arizmendi. Substitutes not used: Dani Mallo (gk), Gallardo, Ruben Castro, Hector.

Referee: C Carballo.

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