Barcelona beat Racing Santander

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Barcelona clung to an early Ronaldinho penalty kick and beat Racing Santander 1-0 at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Barcelona hosted Racing Santander at the Nou Camp on Sunday with a view to putting further pressure on second placed Real Madrid. Luis Enrique was making his final appearance at the Nou Camp - the long serving Barcelona midfielder's contract runs out at the end of the season. Saturday's results ensured that Racing would avoid relegation, but they were still keen to earn a second league victory of the season over Barcelona. Javi Guerrero threatened Victor Valdes' goal in the ninth minute, only for his shot from Diego Mateo's instinctive pass to clear the crossbar. Ronaldinho has been at the heart of everything that Barcelona have done this season. The Brazilian earned an early penalty, despite the fact that he was fouled outside of the visitors' box, then stepped up to the spot and fired in his 15th goal of the season in the 15th minute of the match for a 1-0 lead. Ronaldinho would prove to be a thorn in the side of Racing's defence and only a smart reaction save from goalkeeper Dudu Aouate in the 38th minute denied Barcelona a 2-0 lead. Barca's playmaker set up an inviting chance for Luis Enrique with a fine cross from the left wing seven minutes later, the departing captain could only smash the ball against the woodwork though. That would turn out to be Luis Enrique's final contribution at the Nou Camp - he was replaced by Marc Overmars in the 60th minute and received a fitting send off from his team mates and the club's supporters. Barcelona seemed quite happy to sit on their one goal lead, but they were almost punished when Racing substitute Anderson Silva headed just wide of the target from Jonathan's 67th minute corner kick. Racing were handed a one-man advantage a minute later when Carles Puyol was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Omri Afek. The visitors failed to make their numerical superiority count though and struggled to unlock Barcelona's defence in the remaining minutes. Things could have been quite different if Racing had a player of Ronaldinho's quality in their line-up, although the Brazilian failed to make the most of a 79th minute free kick that Aouate saved with ease. Barcelona's 1-0 victory lifted them above Real Madrid and into second place in the Primera Liga standings. Real were then beaten 2-0 by Murcia on Sunday evening so automatic qualification to next year's Champions League is now a distinct possibility for Barcelona. (AP)

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