Barcelona within 1 point of 3rd straight title

Barcelona moved to within one point of its third straight Spanish league title by beating Espanyol 2-0 in Sunday's Catalan capital derby.

Updated: May 09, 2011 09:37 IST
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Barcelona: Barcelona moved to within one point of its third straight Spanish league title by beating Espanyol 2-0 in Sunday's Catalan capital derby.

Andres Iniesta opened the scoring for Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the 29th, and Gerard Pique doubled the host's lead with his header three minutes after halftime.

Barcelona can clinch its 21st title with at least a draw at Levante on Wednesday. It leads second-place Real Madrid by eight points and holds the head-to-head advantage with three rounds to play.

"We knew we couldn't slip up," Iniesta said. "We have the (league crown) so close. We will now go to Valencia to earn (the title)."

Wrapping up the domestic competition early would also give Barcelona extra time to prepare for the Champions League final against Manchester United on May 28.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola only rested Carles Puyol despite his team coming off a grueling four-game series against Madrid that ended in the Catalan club eliminating its fierce rivals from the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday.

Without shining, Barcelona controlled possession throughout in an unusually subdued match between the crosstown rivals.

Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez tested goalkeeper Carlos Kameni with a shot in the 20th, and moments later Kameni dove to deflect a dipping strike from Iniesta.

Espanyol winger Jose Callejon broke free on right side in the 24th, and the Barcelona defense scrambled to clear his low cross for striker Pablo Osvaldo in the box.

Iniesta's goal was an individual effort as he cut back to shake his defender and shot past Kameni with a low right-footer.

"We had an excellent first half even though after the first goal we relaxed a little bit," Guardiola said. "But in global terms we played a great game against a team that always creates problems for us.

"The league (title) is very near and it only depends on us."

David Villa had a good chance to make it 2-0 about 10 minutes later after trademark passing buildup by Barcelona, but the Spain striker fired wide with only the keeper to beat.

Pique put the result beyond doubt when he beat his marker to reach Xavi Hernandez's corner at the near post.

"We tried our best but they were able to score," said Kameni, whose team is four points out of the Europa League positions. "It is difficult, but we will try until the end."

Eric Abidal came on Andreu Fontas in the 70th to make his second appearance since recovering from surgery to remove a liver tumor.

Elsewhere, Osasuna scored three goals in 18 second-half minutes to rally for a 3-1 win at Zaragoza.

Osasuna forward Javier Camunas canceled out Angel Lafita's early opener in the 62nd, and Sergio Fernandez headed home a free kick eight minutes later to take the lead. After Zaragoza defender Javier Paredes hit the post, striker Enrique Sola capped the win that lifted Osasuna two points clear of the drop.

Zaragoza is even on points with 18th-place Deportivo La Coruna, which fell into the relegation zone after drawing 2-2 with Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

Also, fourth-place Villarreal drew 0-0 at Mallorca to close the gap to third-place Valencia to five points.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals as Real Madrid thrashed Sevilla 6-2 on Saturday to delay Barcelona's title celebrations.

Almeria became the first team to be relegated after losing 2-0 to Getafe.

Giovani dos Santos scored twice to help Racing Santander to a 3-2 win over 19th-place Hercules, which looks increasingly likely to joining Almeria in the second division next season.

Malaga improved its bid to stay up with a 3-0 win at Atletico Madrid, while Valencia beat Real Sociedad 3-0 and Athletic Bilbao defeated Levante 3-2.

The games began after a minute's silence in memory of Seve Ballesteros, the Spanish golf great who died on Saturday.

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  • Carles Puyol
  • David Villa
  • Pedro
  • Andrés Iniesta
  • Gerard Piqué
  • Real Madrid
  • Football
  • Espanyol
  • Barcelona
  • Arsenal
  • Rafael Nadal

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