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Sun 10 Feb 2008 07:07 AM

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Xavi to Barca's rescue again

For the second week running Spanish international Xavi came to Barcelona's rescue, scoring a 75th minute.

For the second week running Spanish international Xavi came to Barcelona's rescue scoring a 75th minute equaliser to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at ten-man Sevilla on Saturday.

Barcelona are now five points behind leaders Real Madrid although the champions have the chance to move eight points clear when they host Valladolid on Sunday.

Barca looked to be heading for defeat after 19-year-old Diego Capel had put Sevilla ahead in the first half but Xavi, who scored a late winner against Osasuna last weekend, levelled to snatch a draw.

"We came from behind to get a point so that is something," said Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta. "It is so difficult to win here at Sevilla. We tried but just came up short."

Sevilla, who were reduced to ten men late on when Seydou Keita was sent off, stay seventh and will rue the missed chance to bolster their European push and enact revenge for last month's Kings Cup to Barcelona.

"I had lots of chances," admitted Capel. "I enjoyed the game and we played well but it is just a shame I couldn't score the vital goal to win the match."

Barcelona were without Carles Puyol, Deco, Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto'o, Bojan Krkic and Gianluca Zambrotta so coach Frank Rijkaard brought in Mexican striker Giovanni Dos Santos, Oleguer and Edmilson in for rare starts.

Sevilla welcomed back Keita and Freddy Kanoute into the starting line-up after the duo's return following Mali's elimination from the African Cup of Nations.

Brazilian Daniel Alves also started after having a suspension lifted and almost opened the scoring after 10 minutes with his fierce free-kick punched away by Victor Valdes.

Thierry Henry then had a good chance at the other end for Barca but the angle was tight for the Frenchman whose shot was stopped by the outrushing Andres Palop.

The game was played at an incredible tempo with two of the most attacking teams in the league both going for the jugular.

However, Sevilla always looked the more likely to score and on 34 minutes Capel arrived late to steer in a Jesus Navas cross for his first goal of the season.Ronaldinho came on at the beginning of the second half for Edmilson as Rijkaard pushed for an equaliser.

It came from Xavi with a quarter hour remaining with the midfielder drilling a low shot through the hapless Palop who should have done better.

Keita was red-carded 60 seconds later collecting a second caution for a late tackle on Lionel Messi.

Both teams could have won it late on with Capel, a product of Sevilla's impressive youth academy, going agonisingly close after an incredible solo run.

Earlier, Villarreal reclaimed third place with a last-gasp goal from Guille Franco clinching a 1-0 win over Real Murcia on Saturday.

"We have taken three points from a very difficult ground something that Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid didn't manage," said Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini.

Villarreal move three points above Espanyol, in action against Recreativo Huelva on Sunday, although they were indebted to Mexican striker Franco for a 93rd minute winner.

Troubled Deportivo La Coruna shared a 1-1 draw with Getafe that does little for either team.

Deportivo lie 15th a point from the relegation zone while Getafe stay 11th in mid-table obscurity.

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