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Ronaldiho nets late winner for Baca
Updated: 2004-03-22 11:36

A last-gasp Ronaldinho free-kick gave Barcelona a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad and extended their winning streak to nine games.

Barcelona's Brazilian player Ronaldinho (C) controls the ball between Real Sociedad's French player Lionel Potillon and Mikel Aranburu during Spanish First Division soccer match at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium March 21, 2004. [Reuters]
Barca battled in vain to bring down a determined Real defence but with time running out Ronaldinho sent a 25-yard free kick into the back of the net.

However, the worry for Barcelona is what appeared to be a hip injury to Carles Puyol which forced him to be substituted and will now make him a doubt for the UEFA Cup match against Celtic on Thursday.

Barca started the match buzzing with confidence thanks to their tremendous form in the Primera Liga.

Marc Overmars, brought into the team for the injured Luis Garcia on the left side of a three-pronged attack, saw a lot of the ball although he struggled to break down the Real backline.

Ronaldinho had a free-kick which went a yard over the crossbar but Sociedad were defending strongly and creating openings of their own. Dabilondo and Nihat Kahveci both had half-chances to stun a full Nou Camp and always looked dangerous.

Midway through the first half, Javier Saviola missed a good chance to punish Real following a defensive mix-up but, after dispossessing Bjorn Kvarme, goalkeeper Alberto came to gather the ball.

Ronaldinho showed moments of sublime skill which proved to be Barca's best method of breaking down Real.

Beating players with mesmerising speed and skill, he jinked to the edge of the area before shooting just wide.

Barca raised the tempo in the run-up to half-time. Puyol embarked on a surging run from the half-way line but produced a weak shot from 15 yards and Overmars, having moved to the right-hand side, was put clear but fired high and wide under pressure from a defender.

The home side continued to press forward in the second half but were finding it difficult to break down a dogged Real who also showed their attacking intent when Nihat crashed a free-kick against Victor Valdes' crossbar after 55 minutes.

Barca responded from the let-off with a flurry of chances but they could not find the breakthrough.

Phillip Cocu headed wide before later latching onto a Michael Reiziger pass but his pull-back for Saviola did not reach his man.

Probably the best opening was created by Ronaldinho who made his way into the penalty area, beating a couple of players, but shot straight at the keeper from an acute angle.

Coach Frank Rijkaard brought on Ricardo Quaresma and his pace caused immediate danger but at the same time his erratic runs were frustrating for the Barca fans. On one occasion he beat two players but tried to shoot with the outside of his boot and the ball fell comfortably to Alberto.

At the other end, Sociedad were also threatening and Barca had to be careful not to push too far forward and leave gaps at the back.

With just two minutes to go Barcelona got the breakthrough they dearly wanted thanks to Ronaldinho's free-kick which he lofted over the wall and into the corner, leaving Alberto rooted to the spot.

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