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Valencia and Barca pull clear at the top
Updated: 2004-09-27 08:54

Champions Valencia and rejuvenated Barcelona continued their impressive starts to the season with emphatic wins in the Primera Liga on Sunday.

 African Player of the Year Samuel Eto'o grabbed a first half double to help Barca to a 3-1 win at his former side Real Mallorca, while Valencia eased to a 2-0 home victory over Racing Santander.

 The only two unbeaten sides in the league are level at the top on 13 points from five games but Valencia lead the standings on goals scored.

 Espanyol, 1-0 home winners over Malaga, lead a chasing pack of five teams on 10 points, while trouble-torn Real Madrid, who lost 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, are down in eighth place on nine points.

 Given the wealth of attacking talent at their disposal Barcelona never needed to find top gear as they brushed aside a sorry-looking Mallorca at Son Moix.

 Swedish striker Henrik Larsson atoned for an early miss when he steered in from point-blank range after midfielder Xavi miscued a shot from the right of the area in the 10th minute.

 Although they were far from their fluent best the visitors were gifted a chance to extend their lead in the 38th minute when defender Sergio Ballesteros conceded a penalty after colliding with Ronaldinho.


 Former Mallorca favourite Eto'o rushed up to grab the ball and netted the spot kick, although he refrained from celebrating the goal against his former team mates.

 The Cameroon striker rubbed salt in the wound, however, when he grabbed a second two minutes later, snapping up a neat pass from Larsson, clipping the ball over the keeper and guiding it into the empty net.

 Barca eased up after the break and coach Frank Rijkaard could even afford the luxury of taking Eto'o off midway through the half so that he could enjoy an ovation from the Mallorca fans.

 Mallorca claimed a late consolation when former Partizan Belgrade striker Andrija Delibasic guided in after a neat assist from Luis Garcia but a Catalan victory was never in doubt.

Vicent celebrates his goal [Reuters]
Valencia, who handed out a 5-1 thrashing to last season's Champions League semi-finalists Deportivo Coruna in midweek, were in similarly dominant form at the Mestalla.

 It was a stroke of luck that allowed them to take the lead, however, when they were awarded a dubious free kick after midfielder Momo Sissoko went down two metres outside the area in the 26th minute.

 Vicente stepped up to take the free kick and his shot took a big deflection off the wall, wrong-footed keeper Dudu Aouate and ended up in the back of the net.

 The visitors suffered another setback a minute before halftime when defender Oriol was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.

 Valencia took immediate advantage in stoppage time, Italian midfielder Stefano Fiore rifling home from five metres after Vicente had cut the ball back from the byline.

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