Barca defeat Valladolid 3-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Barcelona moved into third position in the Spanish Primera Liga standing s with a commanding 3-1 victory at Valladolid.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Valladolid, Spain:

Ten-man Barcelona moved into third position in the Spanish Primera Liga standing s with a commanding 3-1 victory at Valladolid. The result, which placed Barcelona above Deportivo La Coruna, extended the Catalan club's unbeaten run to 13 games, despite the loss of Brazilian striker Ronaldinho, who was sent off after he headed the ball out of the hands of the Valladolid goalkeeper Albano Bizarri and earned a second yellow card. Barcelona continued their recovery, following a poor start to the season and now have a firm grip on a place in European football for next season. A victory for Valladolid, who were 14th in the 20-team competition before this match, was just as vital as they were only six points above the relegation zone. The visitors began the contest in the best possible way when Argentine striker Javier Saviola scored in the second minute with a neat chip over Valladolid goalkeeper Albano Bizarri. Barcelona consolidated their advantage when they produced a second goal 15 minutes from half-time. Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho notching his 12th of the season. After the break, Ronaldinho was again in the thick of the action when he was shown a second yellow card and sent off after he attempted to head the ball out of the hands of Valladolid goalkeeper Bizarri. The loss of arguably their best player this season was almost enough to turn the game. Valladolid scored against Barca's ten-man outfit a few minutes later when Oscar seized his opportunity. However, the home team squandered a golden chance to draw level in the 74th minute. After Barcelona 'keeper Victor Valdes spilled a difficult catch, Oscar missed a chance for a second goal when he was unable to guide the ball into the open net—Barcelona defender Thiago Motta thwarted his strike. Valladolid's failure to gain the equaliser was significant. Five minutes from full-time, Barcelona substitute Andres Iniesta ensured his club's victory when he scored from a well directed pass from Spanish international mid-fielder Luis Enrique. It was Iniesta's first goal of the season. With the 3-1 victory, Barcelona moved ahead of Deportivo La Coruna to take third place in the Liga standings. However, they are still seven points shy of second-placed Valencia in the race for a guaranteed Champions League spot. Teams that finish third and fourth in the Spanish Primera Liga must enter a play-off to gain entry to the Champions League. (AP)

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