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Eto'o brace rescues point for Barca

SAMUEL Eto'o scored twice to help Barcelona rally from two down to draw 2-2 at Real Betis on Saturday, stretching its Spanish Primera Liga lead to 13 points.

Champion Real Madrid can trim the deficit to 10 points at Sporting Gijon after Pep Guardiola's side failed to win for the first time since November's 1-1 draw with Getafe.

Barca has 60 points from 23 matches while Valencia climbed to third on 38 after a 1-1 home draw with Malaga, which moved above Atletico Madrid into sixth spot.

Barca has struggled at Betis in the past decade, winning twice in 10 matches and losing five, including a 2-3 defeat last season in a game it led 2-0.

Guardiola left Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry out of his starting line-up and Betis took advantage, stunning the visitors with two goals in 25 minutes.

Defender Melli beat Sergio Busquets to a corner and sent a looping header past keeper Victor Valdes. A defensive lapse then let Mark Gonzalez in to double the home side's lead. Sergio Garcia's cross from the right was allowed through to the Chilean forward and he volleyed low across Valdes into the bottom corner.

Barca pulled one back in first-half injury time when Andres Iniesta went to ground in the area under a challenge from Juande and the referee pointed to the penalty spot, even though replays showed there was little contact.

Ricardo Pereira blocked the first effort by Eto'o but the Cameroon striker drove home the rebound.

Eto'o grabbed his second double in consecutive weeks with a smart finish through the legs of Fernando Vega with six minutes left, the 23rd goal of the season for the league's top scorer.

Osasuna extended its unbeaten run to four matches with a 0-0 draw at eighth-placed Deportivo Coruna but the Pamplona-based club remained 17th, one point above the relegation zone.

In Italy, Lazio and Napoli dropped points in their pursuit of European qualification places with 1-1 draws in the Serie A on Saturday.

Lazio came from behind to draw with Torino, which remains in the relegation zone, while Napoli was held at home by Bologna.


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