Ronaldinho leads Barca back to top of table

A magnificent Ronaldinho led Barcelona to a dramatic 3-1 comeback win over Real Zaragoza in the Nou Camp on Sunday which moved them back to the top of the Primera Liga.

After the European and Spanish champions had fallen behind to an early strike from Zaragoza’s Gabriel Milito, the Brazilian playmaker headed Barca level in the 30th minute.

Then, with both sides reduced to 10 men, he curled a superb free-kick into the top corner with four minutes remaining, and in time added on struck another against the crossbar which Javier Saviola put in with his head.

Barcelona are top with 23 points, one ahead of Sevilla who were held to a goalless draw away to Racing Santander.

Four goals from Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy earned Real Madrid a convincing 4-1 away win over Osasuna that put them third on 20 points.

The former Manchester United frontman scored three before halftime and rounded off an impressive display with a fourth near the end.

He became the league’s joint top scorer with eight goals along with Ronaldinho, Sevilla’s Frederic Kanoute and Zaragoza’s Diego Milito.

It was his second hat-trick of the season. The other was against Levante in a 4-1 away win in September.

“Two years ago I also scored four in a Champions League match against Sparta Prague but today was different because we only had four or five chances and every one went in,” said Van Nistelrooy.

Getafe are level on 19 points with Zaragoza but fifth on goal difference after midfielder Nacho pounced on an error from Real Mallorca goalkeeper Toni Prats to give Bernd Schuster’s side a 1-0 win.

Valencia who drew 1-1 at home against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday are a point back in sixth place.

Hostile reception

The traditionally hostile reception given to Real in Pamplona ensured a turbo-charged opening as Osasuna tried to impose themselves early on.

Cameroon striker Pierre Webo had just headed over the bar from a good position when Real struck in the 12th minute to take the wind out of the home side’s sails.

Robinho’s long-range effort was too powerful for goalkeeper Ricardo to hold and Van Nistelrooy, who scored two in the King’s Cup during the week, was on hand to slot the loose ball into the net.

Real doubled the lead in the 27th minute when Guti and Robinho combined well on the edge of the area, but as a defender intervened the ball spun clear to Van Nistelrooy, who poached his second at the far post.

The game was effectively settled just before the break when Raul’s pass put Van Nistelrooy through on goal and he scored left-footed inside Ricardo’s near post.

Former Real player Valdo pulled a goal back for Osasuna with a header from a corner in the 64th minute as they resorted to increasingly physical methods to try and get back into the game.

But it was Van Nistelrooy who had the last word, collecting a pass from Emerson wide on the left, advancing and then curling a side-footed shot inside the far post from the edge of the area, six minutes from time. - Reuters

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