Barcelona set for Spanish title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> FC Barcelona moved within two points of its second straight Spanish league title on Saturday, beating Cadiz 1-0.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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FC Barcelona moved within two points of its second straight Spanish league title on Saturday, beating Cadiz 1-0. Barcelona will be announced champion for the 18th time on Sunday if second-place Valencia draws or loses against 18th-place Alaves. The Catalan team's 23rd league victory of the season came three days after it eliminated AC Milan and reached the European Champions League final for the first time in 12 years. Barcelona will face Arsenal in the final in Paris on May 17. Barcelona leads with 76 points, 11 more than Valencia. Real Madrid is third with 63. All three teams have four more matches to play. Ronaldinho, left unmarked in the penalty area, swiveled and volleyed the ball into the roof of the net in the ninth minute at Camp Nou stadium following a driving run and cross by right back Juliano Belletti. Striker Samuel Eto'o failed to double Barcelona's lead in the 63rd minute when his penalty attempt was parried by Cadiz keeper Oscar Limia. Defender Eduardo Berizzo conceded the penalty by fouling Mark van Bommel. Barcelona's Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez appeared as a 81st-minute substitute, boosting his hopes of being selected for the World Cup. Twice denied by acrobatic saves by Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes, Cadiz remained 19th with 32 points and increasingly likely to return to the second division after a season's absence. Celta Vigo defeat Deportivo La Coruna In other games, fifth-place Celta Vigo defeated Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 for its fifth victory in six games. Real Betis drew 1-1 with fellow struggler Athletic Bilbao. Celta midfielder David Silva opened the scoring when he appeared to deflect the ball over the line with his arm in the 33rd minute after Celta striker Fernando Baiano had flicked on an inswinging corner. Despite Deportivo's protests, the goal was allowed to stand. Substitute Jesus Perera, who had entered the field only three minutes earlier, finished a counter in the 88th for the clincher. Celta's win at its regional rival's Riazor stadium boosted its chances of a top-four finish and a berth in next season's European Champions League. Celta, which saw coach Fernando Vazquez ejected in the 39th minute for protesting, has 60 points, two behind fourth-place Osasuna. Deportivo, which had defender Fabricio Coloccini sent off in the 80th minute, suffered a blow to its hopes of a place in next season's UEFA Cup, remaining in seventh place with 52 points. At Seville's Manuel Ruiz de Lopera stadium, striker Robert headed in a chip from fellow Brazilian Edu Schmidt in the 26th minute to give Betis the lead. Bilbao defender Jesus Mari Lacruz sidefooted the equalizer from close range with 25 minutes remaining. Betis, which hasn't won in four games, moved up to 12th place with 38 points. Bilbao, which has never been relegated, extended its winless run to five matches and remained in 15th place with 36 points, three points above relegation. (AP)

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