Barcelona beat Levante 2-1 to extend lead

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Barcelona opened up a 12-point lead in the Spanish league following a 2-1 victory over Levante on Tuesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Barcelona opened up a 12-point lead in the Spanish league following a 2-1 victory over Levante on Tuesday. The home side were one-nil in front at half-time thanks to an own goal from Alexis Martin. Jofre Gonzalez grabbed an equaliser for the visitors after the break, before Samuel Eto'o scored his 13th goal of the season to secure the win. Ronaldinho was the star attraction before Tuesday night's kick-off - proudly showing off his FIFA World Player of the Year award. Everyone knew that victory in this match against Levante would seal the celebrations for the Brazilian. This was Barcelona's last game of 2004 - and they were looking to end the year in style. Their opponents lay 12th going into the match - so the odds were on the home side taking the win. And after seven minutes they showed their intent. Not only Ronaldinho, but also Andres Iniesta and Samuel Eto'o had a chance to open the scoring. Then minutes later Carlos Puyol pulled off some brilliant defending to deny Levante the lead. Both sides were fairly evenly matched in the opening half of the game. Barca, despite dominating possession, were not finding it quite as easy as they may have thought. Then finally just before the half-hour mark, the home side took a deserved lead after a period of sustained pressure. The strike came from a Deco free-kick - but then deflected off Levante defender Alexis Suarez Martin into the back of the net. Just before the break Felix Ettien came close to the equaliser but his header went just wide of the post and Barcelona maintained their lead to the half-time whistle. However after 15 minutes of the second half, Levante were back on level terms. Barca's defenders failed to deal with Mateu Jofre as he ran down the wing - leaving him space to slot the ball home in the far corner. Could Barcelona be about to drop points? Midway through the second half Luis Messi looked set to score the winner with his shot from outside the area - but it was well saved and Eto'o was unable to get to the rebound. But then two minutes from time, who else but Eto'o - already top scorer in the league so far this season - was on target. The goal was his 13th of the season and put Barcelona back in front. They held on to their 2-1 lead to the final whistle. That result ensures they now hold a 12-point advantage in the Spanish League. Barcelona head the standings with 42 points. Espanyol, who visit Valencia on Wednesday, have 30. Real Madrid and Valencia each have 29. Barca will be hoping their performance in 2005 will be as good as that of this year. (AP)

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