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Liverpool eye Real Madrid's Cheryshev

Transfer Talk
By ESPN Staff

Primera Liga: Leaders Barca hang on at Deportivo

MADRID, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Leaders Barcelona were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw against Deportivo Coruna in the Primera Liga on Saturday, after an intense encounter at the Riazor.

Once again the European and Spanish champions struggled to find their rhythm in the face of hard-running opponents determined to unsettle them at every opportunity.

Ronaldinho put Barca ahead from the penalty spot just before halftime, but Depor's unrelenting pressure earned an equaliser in the 73rd minute when Juan Rodriguez scored after Victor Valdes had saved a Fabian Estoyanoff penalty.

Barca moved on to 20 points, two ahead of second-placed Sevilla who host Osasuna on Sunday, when Real Madrid, who are a point further back in third, face Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu.

Earlier Levante ended a run of four games without a win as they overcame basement side Real Sociedad 2-0 at home.

Cameroon striker Albert Meyong Ze scored his first league goal for Levante from a corner just before the break.

Three minutes from time former Italy international Damiano Tomassi made light of a quagmire of a pitch to dribble past two players and cross for Frenchman Laurent Courtois to volley home.

Sociedad, despite having a new coach at the helm in Miguel Angel Lotina, remain rooted to the foot of the table without a win this season.

Misfiring Atletico Madrid made it four games on the trot in all competitions without a goal, as they were held 0-0 away to Real Mallorca.

Barca coach Frank Rijkaard gave Argentine striker Javier Saviola a rare start in the Riazor with Samuel Eto'o and Eidur Gudjohnsen out injured.

But they had few sights of goal as a bright and busy Depor hustled them all over the pitch.

Depor stifled their creativity until Barca's outstanding Andres Iniesta started to make his presence felt and he was involved in the move that led to the first penalty.

Home defender Juanma made a late challenge on Saviola at the edge of the area and Ronaldinho sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

The Brazilian was lucky to still be on the pitch at that moment after making a studs up challenge on Alberto Lopo just a few minutes earlier.

Depor's youngsters never eased off though and were rewarded for their efforts when former Barca youth teamer Joan Verdu was brought down by Edmilson in the area.

Valdes guessed right to save Estoyanoff's spot kick but Rodriguez squeezed the rebound inside the far post.

A frantic finale saw both sides go close to finding a winner with another former Barca youth team player Cristian spurning the clearest of openings.