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February 25, 2007

Barça win as Eto'o scores again

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Samuel Eto'o was waiting for this game. The African star marked his return to the Catalan first team with a coolly-taken goal as the Spanish champions rediscovered their form to defeat 3-0 at the Nou Camp this morning.

The Cameroon player, who is returning after over four months out following knee surgery, scored his team's third goal when he drilled the ball low past the goalkeeper after latching on to a superb pass from Ronaldinho five minutes before the break.

It's good to know, with the rest of the top four only managing to draw their matches, the win allowed the Catalans to open up a two-point lead at the head of the table.

Rijkaard's team lead the standings with 49 points from 24 games. Sevilla, who were held 0-0 at Getafe, follow on 47, four clear of Valencia and Real Madrid who drew 1-1 at city rivals Atletico.

It's important to notice that after suffering back-to-back defeats against Valencia and Liverpool, doubts were being raised about Barcelona's form, but the Catalans responded with their best performance in recent months.

Ronaldinho Gaucho, who has been under the microscope after photos in the Spanish media appeared to show he was overweight, turned on the style in the second half.

The Brazilian player was unlucky not to add a fourth when he hit the bar after a mesmerising jinking run past three defenders, was then denied by Aranzubia who got a foot to a goalbound shot 10 minutes later and struck the woodwork again with a precise free kick.

The popular "Dinho" ended the clash with a smile, and joked with pitchside journalists as he took off his shirt to show no signs any flab. The victory reflected his level.

Rijkaard stands by Ronaldinho

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After a tough week, Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard has defended his star player, Ronaldinho Gaucho, over criticism the midfielder is overweight.

As we know, photos taken following Barca's Champions League defeat to Liverpool appeared to show the Brazilian footballer carrying a roll of fat around his waist.

Despite the strong wave of critics, Rijkaard spoke up: "When the photo is taken quite close by, with inadequate light or if there is some movement, it can vary the reality a lot.

"In this instance, for me there are doubts. For me, there's just no problem."

We must consider that Ronaldinho Gaucho was a key influence in Barca's Spanish league title successes in 2005 and 2006 and also helped his team win the UEFA Champions League last season.

What's more, Rijkaard said: "The player has always given great performances, and I have total confidence in him and we should be happy to have him with us.

"It's really sad to see how people change opinion so easily about a player who has given so much to this institution. Thanks to his strength of mind Ronnie has got where he is today, winning titles and prizes on the way."

Despite the bad nights in the last week, Ronaldinho has scored 16 goals for Barca this season. A good number for a midfielder.