Violence in crazy Catalonia derby; Ruud awakening for Real Betis; Villarreal go top of Spain

Espanyol 1 – Barcelona 2 (La Liga, September 27, 2008) In the Catalonia derby, Messi set up Henry and Xavi hit the crossbar as Barca looked for the opener. But it was Espanyol who struck after some dreadful Barca defending, Corominas slotting home after a cross was poorly dealt with. Henry then had an effort cleared off the line, before Espanyol were reduced to 10 men as Nene was dismissed for a second yellow. (First half highlights here.) After the break Barca continued to press, Messi flashed a shot wide and Henry’s acrobatic bicycle-kick was saved. The game was then halted for ten minutes after violence broke out in the stands as the home fans threw flares into the away supporters, before turning on their own stewards, breaking down a fence. When the game finally resumed Thierry Henry got reward for his hard work, netting the equaliser after a lucky break presented him with an open goal. The game ended is hugely controversial circumstances, Samuel Eto’o fell in the box after a clean, legal tackle, the ref pointed to the spot and Messi rolled home the winner with the final kick of the game.

Real Betis 1 – Real Madrid 2 (La Liga, September 27, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) Real Madrid moved ahead at Real Betis when Gabriel Heinze headed home van der Vaart’s free-kick. Betis almost equalised on the stroke of halftime, but Emana’s effort stayed out thanks to a combintion of post and Iker Casillas. Betis equalised after the break, the ref award a penalty against Marcelo (who was sent off in the process), and although initially saved by Casillas, Sergio Garcia scored on the rebound. Garcia was then later sent off for picking up his second card, and with new impetious Real claimed a last-gasp winner thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Sporting Gijon 0 – Villarreal 1 (La Liga, September 27, 2008) Villarreal moved top of the Spanish league after winning at Gijon with a goal from Giuseppe Rossi.

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