FC Barcelona finally took a positive step towards consigning their recent run of poor form to the past tonight with a 2-0 win at RCD Espanyol in the Catalan derby.
First win in six
Barça won at the Olimpíco stadium for their first victory in six Primera División matches thanks to first-half goals from midfield players Philip Cocu and Xavi Hernández.
Patrick Kluivert should have opened the scoring for the visitors but wasted two excellent early chances. The striker blasted over the crossbar in the eighth minute after a cross from Marc Overmars and had another clear chance in the 25th minute, missing the target again from a low Gaizka Mendieta cross.
However, Kluivert's fellow countryman Cocu was on target, opening the scoring in the 40th minute, as he flicked a header into the net from a Xavi free-kick. Two minutes later, provider turned goalscorer, as Xavi gave Barcelona a comfortable cushion when he slotted in Javier Saviola’s pass.
Espanyol created enough openings to get back into the game after the break. Former Barcelona player Iván de la Peña shot wide in the 75th minute and substitute Raúl Tamudo went close with three efforts, but was denied on each occasion.
Valencia CF, meanwhile, came good in the second half at the Mestalla stadium to defeat Málaga CF and stay third, level on points with Real Madrid CF.
Mista and Vicente Rodríguez spured a succession of opportunities before the break but Mauricio Pellegrino put the home team into the lead seven minutes after half-time with his first goal in over a year.
Sánchez makes sure
The Argentinian defender shot into the net after a cross from Francisco Rufete had caused mayhem in the opposition penalty area. Juan Sánchez added the second on 74 minutes, peeling away from his marker to meet Vicente's left-wing cross with a fine finish.
RC Deportivo La Coruña remained in fourth place thanks to a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid. Dutch striker Roy Makaay scored the winning goal on 57 minutes with his 16th goal of the season.
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