Barcelona four points behind Real Madrid in Primera Liga

Madrid (DPA) : Barcelona are now four points behind Spanish leaders Real Madrid, after being held to a 1-1 draw away to crosstown neighbours Espanyol in the Primera Liga.

The disappointing draw leaves Barca, who have only won once on the road, in joint second place with Villarreal, both with 28 points from 14 games.

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Leaders Real have 32 points, after beating Racing Santander 3-1 – with two goals from veteran captain Raul Gonzalez – earlier on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta gave Barca the lead after just six minutes, supersub Ferran Corominas levelled for Espanyol midway through the second half.

Barca coach Frank Rijkaard raised eyebrows by again leaving Ronaldinho on the bench and starting with 17 year-old Bojan Krkic.

In the sixth minute, Lionel Messi picked his way through the Espanyol defence and centred for Iniesta to score at the far post.

Barca almost went 2-0 up in the 35th minute, when Xavi Hernandez hit the Espanyol crossbar, and then Krkic headed the rebound against the bar.

With Barca looking weary due to their Euro exertions, Espanyol took control in the second half.

In the 68th minute, Spain midfielder Albert Riera broke free down the left and centred for Corominas to make it 1-1 with a clever half-volley.

Barca pushed forward dutifully towards the end, and Messi came close three times to snatching a late winner.

The draw leaves Espanyol in fourth place with 26 points, just two behind Barca and Villarreal, who on Sunday are away to lowly Valladolid.