Barcelona 2 Deportivo la Coruna 1: Barcelona achieve harmony with REM's return to stage

Pete Jenson
Monday 10 December 2007 01:00
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It was dubbed the REM comeback with Ronaldinho, Eto'o and Messi back in-harness for the first time since Samuel Eto'o injured knee ligaments in August and while it was not quite Barcelona's greatest hits they managed a win to ease the pressure on under-fire Frank Rijkaard.

It is no secret that Jose Mourinho fancies Rijkaard's job and a defeat here could have seen Bara slipping 10 points behind Real Madrid before Christmas but with an inspired Ronaldinho returning to the starting line-up they overcame an early shock to cruise to victory.

The visitors stunned the Nou Camp inside two minutes when Cristian Gonzalez caught Victor Valdes napping with a curling shot from 30-yards out. And the Deportivo keeper Gustavo pulled off a superb triple save to keep his side in front, parrying Ronaldinho's long-range free-kick and saving twice from Eto'o and Puyol.

But the home side finally levelled with Ronaldinho's sixth goal of the season. Cristian fouled Iniesta in the box and after an elaborate run-up, he rammed home the penalty.

Rijkaard put Deco on at the start of the second half as Barcelona looked for their second goal.

Rijkaard replaced Eto'o with 17-year Bojan Krkic with 25 minutes left. From this fresh injection of energy the winner came. Lionel Messi sent Carles Puyol down the right and when his cross was palmed out by Munua to Xavi, the midfielder swept in the rebound.

After the game, Rijkaard said: "Psychologically it was a very good victory with Eto'o coming back and the return of Deco. It wasn't a brilliant display but the team showed great mental strength to come back from 1-0 down."

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Zambrota, Milito, Puyol, Sylvinho; Xavi, Marquez, Iniesta; Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Messi

Deportivo la Coruña (4-2-3-1): Munua; Manuel Pablo, A Lopez, Coloccini, Filipe Luis; Antonio Tomas, De Guzmá*; Cristian, Verdu, Guardado; Xisco

* Valencia, who meet Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, could only manage a 0-0 draw at Osasuna.

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