The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deportivo close in on Real Madrid

Madrid: A brilliant second half double from leading scorer Roy Makaay helped Deportivo La Coruna to a 4-2 comeback win over Barcelona in an action-packed match at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

Barcelona went into the break 2-1 ahead thanks to goals from Javier Saviola and Thiago Motta, but two well-taken strikes from Makaay and a classy finish from midfielder Sergio allowed the Galicians to fight their way back to an important win.

Deportivo defender Enrique Romero and Barcelona striker Saviola were both sent off after receiving their second bookings in separate incidents midway through the second half.

The result means that Deportivo keep the pressure on leaders Real Madrid.

Real lead the table on 60 points, Deportivo are second on 57 and Sociedad are a further three points back in third.

For Barcelona, a second defeat in a row leaves them stranded in mid-table, just six points above the relegation zone.

It all started so well for the home side when strike pairing Patrick Kluivert and Saviola combined brilliantly to carve open the Deportivo defence with less than two minutes on the clock.

Kluivert dinked a clever lofted pass behind the Deportivo back four and into the path of the advancing Saviola, who chipped the ball over stranded keeper Juanmi and into the net with his first touch of the ball.

Deportivo recovered well and got back on level terms on 16 minutes after a period of sustained pressure saw Barcelona’s Frank de Boer bring Makaay down on the edge of the area.

Makaay fired the resulting free-kick straight at the wall, but Argentine midfielder Lionel Scaloni was on hand to poke home from close range after the ball had squirmed into his path.

Breathless pace

The breathless early pace continued as Barcelona responded with a series of lightning breaks initiated by Saviola and speedy winger Marc Overmars.

But it was the trickery of Kluivert and a brilliant finish from Motta that put Barcelona into the lead once more.

The Brazilian-born midfielder sent an unstoppable angled shot fizzing into the back of the net after Kluivert had held off the Deportivo defence and cut back a neat pass into his path on 24 minutes.

The two sides continued to trade attacks for the remainder of the half, but it was not until five minutes after the break that Deportivo managed to draw level once more when Makaay scored with a superbly-judged header.

He stuck again just under a quarter of an hour later when he raced on to a well-judged through ball from Sergio, rounded keeper Roberto Bonano and slotted home with his left foot to bring his total of goals to the season to 22.

But the action was far from over as Deportivo were reduced to 10 men when Romero received a second booking for a foul on Saviola and the Argentine followed him into the changing rooms when he too picked up a second yellow card for a handball.

It was Deportivo who appeared to benefit from the sendings off, though, when Sergio checked past two defenders before curling in a fourth on 75 minutes.

Sevilla victory

Earlier, Sevilla striker Nikos Machlas grabbed a spectacular late double to earn his side a 3-1 home victory over Villarreal.

The Greek international, who joined the Andalucians on loan from Ajax in January, claimed his first goal for his new club with a brilliant diving header soon after coming on as a second half substitute and then added another with a fine solo effort in injury time.

The result pushes Sevilla up into sixth, challenging for a place in next season’s Uefa Cup, while Villarreal remain in 13th, just five points above the relegation zone.

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