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Rivers United ease relegation fears

By ESPN Staff

La Liga: Barca battle back to down Depor

MADRID, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Barcelona fought from a goal down at home to Deportivo to seize all three points thanks to a penalty from Ronaldinho and a tap-in from Xavi.

Hidalgo Cristian gave the visitors a shock lead after just three minutes with a fine strike from 25 yards that flew into the top corner.

Cristian turned villain in the 41st minute when he hauled down Andres Iniesta in the penalty area.

Ronaldinho slotted home the spot kick to restore parity.

Xavi proved the match winner with 20 minutes remaining when he tapped into an empty net after a Carlos Puyol cross.

The win moves Barca back into second place in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid briefly moved into second place in the Primera Liga with a 1-0 win over neighbours Getafe in a bad-tempered match at the Calderon in which four players were sent off.

Javier Aguirre's side clinched a barely deserved victory thanks to a well worked goal from Diego Forlan in the first half but the win was overshadowed by the dismissal of two players from each side in the space of 12 second-half minutes.

Atletico striker Sergio Aguero was the first to go when he picked up a second booking midway through the second half and Getafe defender Lucas Licht followed him down the tunnel for the same reason eight minutes later.

Getafe keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri was given his marching orders for a handball outside the area and Atletico winger Jose Antonio Reyes completed the display of indiscipline when he was shown a straight red moments later for a wild tackle.

The win lifted Atletico to second in the table, five points behind Real Madrid who beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Saturday.

Villarreal dropped to fourth after they went down 1-0 at home to struggling Real Betis who replaced Hector Cuper with reserve team boss Paco Chaparro after last weekend's defeat at home to Atletico.

Espanyol missed their chance to overtake Villarreal when they surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 against Real Zaragoza at La Romareda.

Zaragoza took an early lead through Argentine striker Diego Milito but looked to be down and out when Espanyol hit back with three goals in the space of seven minutes.

Raul Tamudo claimed the first on eight minutes when he lobbed into the top corner from the left side of the area, Valdo added a second with a superb curler and Pablo Zabaleta ghosted in at the far post to make it 3-1 before a quarter of an hour was up.

Zaragoza suffered a further setback when midfielder Peter Luccin was sent off at the start of the second half but Espanyol failed to take advantage and Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira struck twice in the last four minutes to earn his side a point.

Sevilla's Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano also struck twice in his side's 3-1 victory at home to Real Murcia to take his tally for the season to 10 and earn the Andalucians their first win in five outings.

A spectacular freekick from Alvaro Negredo earned Almeria a valuable win over fellow promoted side Valladolid.

The former Real Madrid youth team member volleyed home from two metres outside the area when Corona flicked a freekick into the air after Valladolid defender Jose Antonio Garcia Calvo had been sent off for hauling back Juanma Ortiz 15 minutes from time.

Levante dropped further behind at the bottom of the table after a morale-sapping home defeat to Recreativo Huelva.

Javier Camunas put Recreativo in front late in the first half when he slotted home after stealing behind the Levante defence and fellow midfielder Jesus Vazquez made it 2-0 when he swept a first-time shot into the net after the break.

Cameroon striker Pierre Webo gave Mallorca an early lead against Racing Santander with a fine header but Jorge Lopez equalised soon after, smashing home from a tight angle after a quick freekick.

Mallorca suffered another blow when Webo was harshly sent off for catching an opponent in the face as he shrugged off a tackle and Racing took immediate advantage, midfielder Aldo Duscher scoring with a great first-time shot on the half hour.

Racing were also reduced to 10 men when Oscar Serrano was sent off on 32 minutes but they still managed to extend their lead late on when striker Pedro Munitis slid in at the far post.