Barca beat Real Sociedad 1-0

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ronaldinho celebrated his 24th birthday in style on Sunday, scoring a last minute winner as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Ronaldinho celebrated his 24th birthday in style on Sunday, scoring a last minute winner as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 to move back into third place in Spain's La Liga. Frank Rijkaard's side have now extended their winning run to nine games, their best run in a single season for 30 years. The defeat for Real Sociedad, who matched the Catalans for most of the game, meant they remain seven points above the drop zone. In-form Barcelona were looking to reclaim third spot in La Liga and move to within six points of leaders Real Madrid when they entertained Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp on Sunday. Frank Rijkaard's side, who were on an impressive eight match winning run which has put Barcelona back in the title race, took a while to get into their stride and it was Ronaldinho who created their first chance after 27 minutes. The Brazilian international went on a run from deep, skipping past challenges, but fired wide. Two minutes later, last season's runners-up Real Sociedad, had their first shot on target when Xavi Alonso tamely shot at Victor Valdes in the Barca goal. Barcelona, who were looking to capitalise of Real Madrid's 4-2 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, nearly went ahead in the closing stages of the first half. Carlos Puyol collected the ball on the halfway line, ran through a static Sociedad defence and only the alertness of goalkeeper Alberto prevented the defender scoring one of the goals of the season. Raynald Denoueix's side, whose recent exit from the Champions League now allows them to devote their full attention to ensuring their survival in the top flight, came close to snatching the lead in the 52nd minute. A stunning free kick from Turkey international Nihat thundered against the bar and away to safety. Ronaldinho, whose family were in the stands to watch him play and also celebrate his 24th birthday, was a constant threat. Only a block by Alberto stopped the Brazilian from scoring. But Alberto had no chance with a Ronaldinho free kick in the 89th minute. The "birthday boy" conjured a piece of Brazilian magic to seal maximum points for Barcelona, which left them hot on the heels of Valencia in second and leaders Real Madrid. (AP)

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