Eurozone: Barça lose leadership after comedy of errors

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The Independent Online

It was like watching royalty stumble – the elegance with which Barcelona are associated made their undignified draw in Almeria all the more unsightly. First came coach Pep Guardiola's red card for arguing with a linesman about a penalty not given, then Carlos Puyol put through his own goal trying to clear a cross and finally Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off for pushing in the penalty area – an unmerited punishment but one which rules him out of this week's visit of Valencia.

The fact that Barcelona salvaged a point was due to Lionel Messi (pictured). The Argentine scored direct from a free-kick to cancel out Cisma's first-half header but he needed to score again on the hour after Puyol's own goal.

Barcelona were on the plane home from Almeria when Rafael van der Vaart's injury-time goal ensured three points for Real Madrid from a 3-2 win over Seville. Barça's unbecoming slip-up leaves Real top of La Liga for the first time in 106 days.



Beckham sweats

David Beckham played just 19 minutes for Milan on Saturday as they drew another Serie A blank ahead of their visit to Old Trafford. Their goalless draw against Roma leaves them with only slim hopes of catching leaders Internazionale and Beckham's minimal participation leaves him sweating on a late decision by coach Leonardo that will depend largely on the fitness of Alexandre Pato. Milan could not make their greater possession pay with Klaas van Huntelaar, picked ahead of Beckham, again failing in front of goal. Leonardo will decide on Pato's fitness for Wednesday's game at Manchester United and if he starts in attack with Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello that will leave the former England captain on the bench.



Problems for Porto

Porto warmed up for Arsenal tomorrow with more disappointment, needing two late goals to scrape a 2-2 home draw against strugglers Olhanense.

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