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Barca title bid suffers big setback

  • Story Highlights
  • Second-placed Barcelona crash to a 2-1 home defeat by Villarreal on Sunday
  • Defending champions Real Madrid lead by eight points with 11 games to play
  • Third-placed Villarreal won at the Nou Camp for the first time in six years
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BARCELONA, Spain -- Barcelona crashed to a 2-1 home defeat by Villarreal on Sunday, giving Spanish champions Real Madrid an eight-point lead with 11 games to play this season.

Goalkeeper Diego Lopez, left, celebrates Villarreal's win with team-mates Sebastian Eguren and Diego Godin.

Striker Jon-Dahl Tomasson struck nine minutes from time to give third-placed Villarreal a league double over the Catalans, who they now trail by only four points.

Frank Rijkaard saw his side slump to a second successive league defeat, having trailed Real by just two points a fortnight ago.

The Dutchman's position will now come under increasing scrutiny, despite having led Barca into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the Kings Cup this season.

The home side were missing the injured Lionel Messi, but still started with a potent attacking trio in Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o.

However, Marcos Senna put Villarreal ahead with a penalty in the 32nd minute after Victor Valdes hauled down Guille Franco in the box.

Xavi Hernandez looked to have snatched a point for Barca when he equalized on 67 minutes, but substitute Tomasson produced a shock winner as Villarreal won at the Nou Camp for the first time in six years.

Earlier on Sunday, Luis Fabiano scored his 20th goal of the season as Sevilla bounced back from their midweek Champions League exit with a 2-1 win over bottom club Levante, moving up to sixth place.

Sevilla, who crashed out of Europe's premier tournament on penalties to Fenerbahce in midweek, went behind after just four minutes when Rahamat Riga scored.

Mali international Seydou Keita equalized on 28 minutes and Brazilian Fabiano struck three minutes after half-time as he heads the Spanish scoring charts.

"We played very poorly," admitted Barca president Joan Laporta. "They dominated us for almost the whole match apart from a brief period in the second half.

"We can still win this league as we are in the same position we were five games ago. There are games left and points to play for so there is hope."

Racing Santander moved level on points with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid following a 3-0 win over Real Betis, with Argentines Ezequiel Garay and Aldo Duscher both on target.

Real Mallorca thrashed Recreativo Huelva 7-1, with Juan Arango scoring a hat-trick to push his side away from trouble and leave the visitors in the bottom three.

Getafe, who beat Benfica 2-1 in the UEFA Cup in midweek, moved up to ninth with a 3-0 triumph at Murcia.

Deportivo La Coruna moved two points away from the relegation zone after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 away to ninth-placed Valencia.

Deportivo are on 31 points, level with Valladolid -- beaten 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao.

Almeria failed to close the gap on seventh-placed Espanyol, who lost to Real Madrid on Saturday, after being beaten 2-1 by Osasuna. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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