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Leader Barcelona edges Levante 1-0 in Spanish league; Madrid downs Bilbao 4-1

Leader Barcelona edges Levante 1-0 in Spanish league; Madrid downs Bilbao 4-1

Samuel Eto'o scored Sunday, and FC Barcelona edged relegation-threatened Levante 1-0 to maintain its one-point lead in the Spanish league.
Third-place Real Madrid stayed in contention for its first title in four years with a 4-1 victory at struggling Athletic Bilbao. David Beckham was included in Madrid's starting lineup for the first time in six weeks after a right knee injury, and the former England captain set up the first goal.
Eto'o fired his eighth goal of the season in the 28th minute after Levante goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina had pushed the ball into his path.
While Barcelona's narrow win preserved its unbeaten record at Camp Nou this season, the defending champion has only scored twice in the past four home and away games.
"I'm not satisfied with our play but I'm happy about the result. With another goal in our favor, we wouldn't have suffered so much," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was quoted as saying by news agency Efe.
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored twice and Sergio Ramos and Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez added the others to help Madrid record its 10th away win, equaling a club record set in the 1960-61 and 1987-88 seasons.
Earlier, Antonio Puerta, Javier Chevanton and Jose Luis Marti scored second-half goals to help second-place Sevilla beat Espanyol 3-1 and boost its chances of a first title since 1946.
Also, Zaragoza failed to climb into fourth place when it drew 2-2 at Osasuna.
Other results Sunday were: Racing Santander 0, Deportivo La Coruna 0; Getafe 1, Real Sociedad 0; Gimnastic Tarragona 0, Villarreal 3; and Celta Vigo 0, Mallorca 3.
With six games remaining, Barcelona has 62 points, while Sevilla has 61 and Madrid 60. Valencia follows with 56, two more than Zaragoza.
Levante went into the game with Barcelona having won only twice this season and with defeats on its three previous visits to Camp Nou.
Yet, despite the goal by Eto'o, Barcelona found it hard to dominate the visitors, possibly due to fatigue from its friendly victory over Al Ahly in Egypt on Tuesday.
Ronaldinho stirred Barcelona supporters with a long-range volley in the 50th minute which Molina pushed expertly over the bar.
Eto'o had a goal disallowed five minutes later in an improved second-half display by the home team, whose goalkeeper Victor Valdes was making his 200th first-team appearance.
Lionel Messi wasted Barcelona's clearest chance in the final minute when he sidefooted a pass by Eto'o onto the crossbar from close range.
Barcelona then had a scare when Levante midfielder Olivier Kapo just failed to convert Gustavo Reggi's header across goal.
Beckham made an early impact when his inswinging free kick was met by Ramos at the back of the penalty area for Madrid's opening goal in the 14th. A free kick from Beckham also provided Ramos with a headed goal in last weekend's win over Valencia.
However, Beckham received a yellow card in the 75th, ruling him out of next weekend's important league match with Sevilla.
Beckham's suspension means he has a maximum of five Madrid games remaining before he joins the Los Angeles Galaxy in August.
Van Nistelrooy doubled Madrid's lead in the 34th minute by nodding home from Cicinho's floated cross from the right. Cicinho was appearing in the starting lineup for the first time for seven months.
The Dutch striker then volleyed the visitors' third in the 50th for his 18th goal of the season, one less than the league's top scorers, Sevilla's Frederic Kanoute and Zaragoza's Diego Milito.
Bilbao substitute Fernando Llorente scored with an 80th-minute header only for Madrid substitute Guti to restore the three-goal lead three minutes later with a chip.
Sevilla couldn't get past Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni in the first-half of a matchup which could be repeated in next month's UEFA Cup final.
However, midfielder Puerta seized on a loose ball to give Sevilla the lead in the 51st, with striker Chevanton shooting the second goal in the 53rd while lying on the ground.
Ferran "Coro" Corominas, who scored in Espanyol's 3-0 win over Werder Bremen in the first leg of the UEFA Cup semifinals last Thursday, reduced the deficit when he beat Sevilla's offside trap in the 60th.
Playing with a host of reserve players, Espanyol conceded a third goal in the 74th minute when substitute Marti angled a low shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Osasuna's Juanlu Gomez opened the scoring in the fifth minute, with Zaragoza midfielder Pablo Aimar equalizing direct from a free kick in the 12th.
Valdo Lopes restored the UEFA Cup semifinalist's lead in the 55th, with Sergio Garcia leveling for Zaragoza in injury time.
Santander missed the chance to climb into seventh place by playing out a stalemate with Deportivo.
Sociedad's bid for its third straight win foundered at Getafe, leaving the 19th-place club in increased danger of relegation.
Defender Alexis Ruano headed the winning goal in the 71st minute.
Tarragona looks doomed to relegation following a heavy defeat against Villarreal.
Diego Forlan scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season in the 18th and 79th minutes, with Matias Fernandez adding Villarreal's third in injury time.
Celta also increased its relegation worries after crashing at home to Mallorca.
Early long-range goals by Juan Arango and Fernando Varela and a late strike by substitute Maxi Lopez brought Celta coach Hristo Stoitchkov his second defeat in three games since taking charge earlier this month.
On Saturday, Valencia beat Recreativo Huelva 2-0, while Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 with Real Betis.


Updated : 2021-06-23 11:41 GMT+08:00