Ronaldinho strikes to end Seville resistance

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The Independent Football

Ronaldinho produced another dazzling piece of skill to give Barcelona a 2-1 win at home to Seville last night as they recorded an 11th consecutive victory in all competitions to equal their club record.

The Brazilian, presented with the Ballon d'Or trophy for the European Footballer of the Year by his mother Miguelina before the match, sped past three defenders to hit the winner 12 minutes from the end of an absorbing encounter at the Nou Camp.

The victory sent the Spanish champions back to the top of the table, level on points with Osasuna who extended their perfect home record to eight wins when they earlier beat struggling Real Mallorca 1-0 at El Sadar.

Real Madrid moved up to third place after a 2-0 victory at Malaga that give new coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro a winning start in the league.

Defender Sergio Ramos, playing in midfield for the suspended David Beckham, headed in the first goal from a corner and Brazilian forward Robinho added a second four minutes later with a fierce shot after a fine run down the right.

Barça lead the table, level on 34 points from 15 games with Osasuna who are six ahead of a Real team they will meet next week at the Bernabeu.

Villarreal won 3-1 at Real Sociedad on Saturday while Valencia were held 1-1 by struggling Athletic Bilbao. Striker Diego Tristan earned Deportivo a 1-0 win at home to Cadiz and Celta Vigo were beaten 1-0 at Real Zaragoza.

Javier Aguirre's Osasuna got off to a perfect start when Cameroon striker Webo clipped the ball over Toni Prats after the Mallorca keeper scuffed a clearance into his path after five minutes.

Osasuna dominated throughout and regularly threatened with their slickly worked counter-attacks, but despite a host of clear scoring chances they were unable to extend their lead.

At the Nou Camp, Seville, who have the best defensive record in the league, were in determined mood and never gave any ground as they hounded the Barça players off the ball and pressured them in every area of the pitch.

Missing Deco, Xavi, Rafael Marquez, Mark van Bommel and Thiago Motta, Barcelona lacked their usual imagination in midfield and struggled to break down the canny Seville defence as scoring chances were few and far between.

But former West Ham and Spurs striker Frédéric Kanouté stunned the home crowd when he poked home from close range in the 63rd minute after former Barca striker Javier Saviola had struck the post.

It took just two minutes for Barca to get back on level terms, leading striker Samuel Eto'o chalking up his 13th goal of the season when he headed in at the second attempt after a Ronaldinho corner.

The match remained delicately balanced until Ronaldinho exchanged a blistering one-two with substitute Henrik Larsson, jinked his way through the Seville defence and steered a perfectly placed shot past goalkeeper Andres Palop.

The Catalan side matched their 50-year-old record of 11 consecutive wins set in the 1955-56 season but it was not enough to shake off the attentions of the surprise package, Osasuna.