Barcelona legends 1 – 3 Manchester United legends
Manchester United partied like it was 1999 as the Red Devils legends defeated Barcelona in a charity match at the Nou Camp on Friday.
Despite Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert gracing the pitch once again for the Catalans, it was the men from Manchester who triumphed, goals from Jesper Blomqvist, Karel Poborsky and Dwight Yorke firing them to a 3-1 win.
Blomqvist and Poborsky netted either side of half-time before United captain Dwight Yorke, who famously played here on the way to the Treble in 1999, iced the cake with a fine finish from outside the box. Frederic Dehu scored a consolation for the home side with the last kick of the game.
There was action from the outset as Poborsky got a lob all wrong, unlike at Euro 96 for Czech Republic, from Ji-sung Park’s precise pass before Raimond van der Gouw handled outside his box, redeeming himself with an excellent diving save to claw away Ronaldinho’s free-kick.
Ludovic Giuly fired over the top after good work by Rivaldo and Ronaldinho but he then hobbled off and United took the lead on 14 minutes. Poborsky cut the ball back for Blomqvist, only for Miguel Angel Nadal to block on the line, but Yorke kept the move alive and Blomqvist gratefully poked in at the second attempt.
Barcelona created chances but could have been further behind at the interval with Nadal nodding a Poborsky centre behind after the United midfielder had beaten keeper Jesus Angoy and must have been tempted to shoot towards an empty net. The effervescent Park was also unlucky not to win a penalty after a trip by Edgar Davids.
Ronaldinho, voted Man of the Match, rolled back the years with some outrageous skill, most notably a nutmeg on Blomqvist, and virtually every pass was a no-look one. His fellow Brazilian Rivaldo teed up Patrick Kluivert but he spurned a golden opportunity under pressure and the Reds were far more clinical. A neat move led to Yorke feeding Park and Poborsky’s finish took a wicked deflection off Dehu to double the lead.
Rivaldo’s free-kick flew wide and Edmilson had a set-piece pushed over by Kevin Pilkington before an incredible moment unfolded when Ronaldinho released Rivaldo and he tried a rabona finish that rolled just the wrong side of the post, to huge cheers from the captivated crowd in any case.
Danny Webber blasted off target on the break and caused problems for a tiring defence with his speed but Pilkington had to be alert to stop a toe-poke by Ronaldinho, when Davids outstripped Park down the left. It was United who scored next, courtesy of a superb drive by skipper Yorke that crashed in off a post, following a Webber touch to Mikael Silvestre’s diagonal pass.
Barcelona did pull a goal back to raise their hopes for the second game, as Dehu deceived Pilkington, expertly dummying the substitute keeper, to confidently find the net, following approach work by Ronaldinho, inevitably, and Kluivert. The money raised for charity is always the most important thing but it is still all set up nicely for Old Trafford in September, particularly as away goals do not count.
The return leg will be at Old Trafford on 2 September.
Angoy (Guzman 73); Belletti (Dehu 36), Nadal (Andersson 46), Edmilson (Amor 67), Goikoetxea (Juan Carlos 73); Giuly (Kluivert 13), Davids (Estebaranz 82), Mendieta (Popescu 56), Simao (Ezquerro 46 (Salinas 84)); Rivaldo (Carreras 73), Ronaldinho.
Van der Gouw (Pilkington 46); Brown, Johnsen (Martin 53), Silvestre; Poborsky (Thornley 65), Park, Smith, Djordjic (Beardsmore 74), Blomqvist (Blackmore 74); Yorke, Saha (Webber 56).