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Barcelona, Real Sociedad back on track
( 2003-10-27 09:21) (Agencies)

Barcelona beat Real Mallorca 3-1 on Sunday to claim their first Primera Liga win in five attempts, while Real Sociedad got back on track with a valuable 1-0 win at home to Osasuna.

Barca, under pressure after a run of two draws and two defeats, took the lead away to Mallorca with a Javier Saviola strike that just crossed the line after nine minutes.

Ronaldinho fired in a free kick after 23 minutes and Philip Cocu headed in the third early in the second half.

Mallorca improved in the final half-hour and pulled one back four minutes from time through Fernando Correa but the result was never in doubt, even after Barcelona had midfielder Gabri sent off in the first minute of injury time.

Barcelona's third victory of the league season gave them 12 points from eight games and took them up to seventh, behind Real Sociedad on goal difference.

Sociedad, last season's runners-up, were grateful to a Darko Kovacevic header for their victory over Osasuna, a first Primera Liga win since September 20.

Deportivo Coruna went top of the league on Saturday with a 2-1 win at home to Valencia, while Real Madrid moved up to second thanks to a 3-1 victory over Racing Santander at the Bernabeu.

Deportivo have 21 points, followed by Real and Valencia on 19 and Osasuna on 14.

Real Betis improved to fifth on Sunday with 13 points after a 3-2 win at home to Albacete.

Barcelona needed a good performance after dispiriting defeats at home to Valencia and Deportivo Coruna and recent speculation about Patrick Kluivert's future at the club.

Coach Frank Rijkaard opted to play Saviola up front in place of the Dutch international forward and he was rewarded with a first goal from the Argentine after nine minutes, when he got just enough contact on the ball to beat Leo Franco.

Barca pulled further clear with a spectacular free kick from Ronaldinho midway through the first half and Ricardo Quaresma and Luis Garcia both missed excellent chances to score further goals.

The third did arrive six minutes after the break when Thiago Motta advanced down the left and crossed for Cocu to head in at the near post.

Kluivert eventually came on for Saviola but the Dutchman could not find his first goal of the league season and the Catalans gave themselves a scare when Victor Valdes failed to hold a shot from Samuel Eto'o and allowed Correa to tuck in.

There was no time for Mallorca to stage a rescue mission, though, and Barca held on for a win that should give Rijkaard and his team some breathing space.

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