A second successive defeat for Real Madrid
allowed Barcelona to extend their lead at the top of the Primera Liga to
eight points despite being held to a 1-1 draw at basement side Numancia
Real spurned their chance to take advantage of Barcelona's slip-up in
their match when they succumbed to a whirlwind start by a dominant
Deportivo Coruna who went on to ease their way to a comfortable 2-0 win
at the Riazor.
The results mean that Barca lead the table with 58 points from 25 games,
Real follow on 50, while third-placed Real Betis, who visit Valencia on
Sunday, have 41.
Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol moved up to fourth, level on points
with Betis, after first-half strikes from Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Tamudo
helped them to a 2-1 win at home to relegation-threatened Albacete.
Barca never really warmed to the task in the freezing conditions at Los
Pajaritos and were unable to settle into their usual slick passing game
on the icy pitch.
It was their modest opponents who adjusted better to the treacherous
surface and created the first chance of the game when Juanlu lashed a
shot past the post in the third minute.
The visitors created just two clear chances in the first half, Xavi
clipping a gentle effort into the arms of keeper Juanma after good work
by Silvinho on the left and Samuel Eto'o sending a shot skidding past
the post just after the half-hour.
Juanlu issued another warning Barcelona when he fired a low free kick
past the post and two minutes later he put his side ahead when he
smashed home with his close-range overhead kick after the defence failed
to clear a long throw into the area.
Their lead was wiped out two minutes after the break when Mexico
defender Rafael Marquez fired past Juanma on the turn after coming short
to collect a corner.
Real, missing forwards Ronaldo, Raul as well as centre-back Ivan
Helguera, looked even more uncomfortable than Barca on their visit to
the Riazor, a ground they had not won at in over 13 years.
Deportivo twice went close to taking the lead in the first two minutes,
Victor flashing a deflected drive past the post and Juan Carlos Valeron
having a shot cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
They proceeded to swamp Real in midfield and it came as little surprise
when they took the lead after a slickly worked attacking move in the
Forward Albert Luque got in front of Raul Bravo and Walter Samuel to
fire a header past keeper Iker Casillas after Sergio had whipped in a
cross from the right.
Real barely had time to draw breath before they found themselves two
goals down, this time centre-back Francisco Pavon looped a header over
Casillas and into his own net after Victor had dinked in a cross from
Depor were only prevented from adding a third by two fine saves from
Casillas, first when he tipped a lob from Victor over the bar and then
turned a Diego Tristan shot away with his foot after some great
interplay on the edge of the area.
Real suffered a further setback when Zinedine Zidane was forced off with
an injury before the half hour was up and their only chances came when
Javier Portillo, Roberto Carlos and David Beckham tried their luck from