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Pedro powers Barcelona over Mallorca in Spain

BARCELONA rediscovered its scoring touch in a 4-2 win over Mallorca, while Real Madrid kept pace with the defending Spanish league champion by holding on to beat city neighbor Atletico Madrid 3-2 yesterday.

Pedro Rodriguez curled a shot around Dudu Aouate to give Barcelona the lead in the 11th minute and responded to Jose Nunes' 20th-minute equalizer by pouncing on a rebound just before halftime, after three straight saves by the Mallorca goalkeeper.

Thierry Henry headed home his first league goal of the season in the 44th and Lionel Messi scored a late penalty as Barcelona, coming off two low-key draws, ensured it stayed one point ahead of Madrid after 10 games.

Kaka curled in a long-range shot five minutes into the Spanish capital derby and fellow Brazilian Marcelo scored from a tight angle in the 25th. Gonzalo Higuain added a second-half goal before Atletico started its late rally behind Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero, but Atletico couldn't snap a 10-year home winless streak against its north Madrid neighbor.

Barcelona has 26 points, Madrid 25, while Deportivo La Coruna beat Getafe 2-0 to join Sevilla in third with 19 points. Valencia was next with 18, one ahead of Mallorca. Atletico stayed 18th with seven points.

Miguel Angel "Mista" Ferrer scored a goal and set up Filipe Luis for the other as Deportivo ultimately hung on with nine men to continue its impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win at Getafe.

Also yesterday, Malaga rallied to draw 2-2 against Tenerife.

At Vicente Calderon, Sergio Ramos appeared to foul Cleber Santana outside the Atletico area but play continued and the ball fell to Kaka, who squared up to shoot through a crowd and into the top of goal for his third of the season.

Marcelo's goal was a fair reward for Madrid's domination, with Atletico unable to get the ball out of midfield.

Higuain appeared to seal the game in the 64th after stealing from Luis Perea and darting into the area to beat Asenjo. The Argentina striker immediately came out for Raul Gonzalez, who started on the bench for the third straight game for the first time since his rookie season.

But Madrid was reduced to 10 moments later when Ramos was sent off for tripping Aguero, who shrugged off Pepe to beat Iker Casillas with a low shot two minutes after Forlan's short tap-in got Atletico on the board in the 79th. Casillas denied Aguero from deep inside the area two minutes into injury time. Madrid has lost only two of its last 33 games against Atletico.

"It wouldn't have been fair if Atletico Madrid had drawn," Casillas said. "The expulsion did a lot."

Coach Pep Guardiola left regulars Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez on the bench to start as Barcelona came into the game on the heels of a scoreless Champions League draw at Rubin Kazan and a 1-1 result at Osasuna last weekend.

"I knew it was a risk but I preferred to have them play less but with more intensity than the whole 90 minutes," Guardiola said.

Pedro opened after Zlatan Ibrahimovic delivered an exquisite backheel pass to put him through into the area for a clear shot.

Barcelona's defense was at fault for the equalizer, as Gerard Pique failed to clear a Mallorca corner that Nunes headed home.

Aouate could only shake his head in disbelief after Pedro's second as the Israel keeper denied successive shots from Pedro, Henry and Sergio Busquet before failing to stop the last effort.

Henry jumped into a cross before Ibrahimovic was tripped up inside the area in the 87th to force the spot kick. Messi joined his Swedish teammate atop the league scoring charts with his seventh goal.

Xavi and Iniesta also appeared in the second half, with Xavi matching Carles Rexach's 328 appearances for the Catalan club - the second most all-time.

Substitute Alhassane Keita was free in the area to score Mallorca's second goal in the second minute of injury time.

"It wasn't one of our best games but it wasn't bad," Guardiola said.

Mista, a surprise starter, streaked into the area in the 13th minute to head Luis' cross from the left past goalkeeper Oscar Ustari.

Deportivo was reduced to 10 men in the 27th after Ivan "Riki" Sanchez picked up a second booking for a deliberate handball that incensed coach Miguel Angel Lotina, who was eventually sent from the touchline in the 34th.

Mista was clear in the box when Andres Guardado's shot rolled to him in the 59th, and the Spanish striker passed to Luis to slot home.

Deportivo played with nine men for the last 18 minutes after Sergio Gonzalez was sent off.

Today's 10th round of games include: Sevilla vs. Villarreal; Valencia vs. Zaragoza; Valladolid vs. Xerez; Sporting Gijon vs. Espanyol; Racing Santander vs. Athletic Club; and Almeria vs. Osasuna.


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