MADRID - Espanyol's battling 0-0 draw at home to La Liga leaders Barcelona will have made interesting watching for Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho yesterday.
The Italians host the European Cup holders in a Champions League semifinal first-leg tie tomorrow, volcanic ash permitting, and were able to witness a rare sight as Barca found themselves harried, hurried and ultimately held by their super-motivated city rivals. The visitors lost defender Daniel Alves to a red card after 62 minutes and Espanyol, who hit the woodwork in the first half, were perhaps unlucky not to come away with more from a game in which Barca were uncharacteristically defensive.
"It's a point worth its weight in gold, because we played a long time with a man less," Barca president Joan Laporta told Spanish media. "We are in the last stages of the league and there is more pressure because everyone has something to play for."
Espanyol's fans gave Barca a typically hostile reception, with a banner in the stands letting the visitors know exactly where they stood: "You aren't a rival, you are the enemy."
Earlier, Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano were on target to help Sevilla beat Sporting Gijon 3-0 at home, moving them up to fourth with 54 points. - Reuters