Monday, February 27, 2006

Samuel Eto'o taunted in Barcelona's victory

Racism is in the headlines again. Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o threatened to leave the field in the 77th minute when he received racist taunts from the crowd, but was persuaded to remain by Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard and finish off the club's 2-0 victory at Zaragoza on Saturday.

The three-time African player of the year could be seen saying ''No more,'' and was encouraged by teammates to remain. Eto'o also was taunted by Zaragoza supporters at La Romareda stadium a year ago, when the striker responded by mimicking a monkey.

Indeed, the striker's actions follow those of Ivory Coast's Marc Zoro, who threatened to leave the field during Messina's Italian league game with Inter Milan last November. Saturday's incident likely will intensify recent calls for football authorities to impose harsher sanctions against clubs whose fans racially taunt opposing teams' players.

We can say, though, that Barcelona took the lead three minutes later when Ronaldinho converted a penalty, awarded after Albert Celades was called for hand ball that prevented a goal by Edmilson. Celades was ejected.

Substitute Henrik Larsson added the second goal two minutes later when he clipped home a low cross from the right by Eto'o.

Barcelona's victory in Rijkaard's 100th league game at the helm of the club gave it 58 points and extended its lead in the standings to nine points.

Barcelona's entered the game coming off Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win at Chelsea. It appeared cautious against Zaragoza, which eliminated it from the Copa del Rey quarter-finals last month and ended its 18-game winning streak with a 4-2 win in the first leg.

In fact, Zaragoza came closest in the 29th minute of a tense first half when goalkeeper Victor Valdes tipped tipped a fierce shot by striker Ewerthon over the bar. Barcelona's only reply came 14 minutes later when Thiago Motta put a shot just wide.

Barcelona substitute Mark van Bommel fired just over the bar in the 61st as the game remained tight after halftime.

Is important to notice that Zaragoza, which has advanced to the Copa del Rey final after also eliminating Madrid, suffered its first defeat in five league games.

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