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Barcelona legends enthrall football-mad Kolkata in exhibition match



Kolkata, Sep 28: Former Argentina striker Javier Saviola sizzled with a crisp goal and his trademark runs as FC Barcelona Legends enthralled the motley crowd at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan by thrashing Mohun Bagan Legends 6-0 in an exhibition game here on Friday.

The team also had Edmilson and Juliano Belletti, both World Cup winners in 2002, Simao Sabrosa and Jari Littmanen. Saviola got the 25,000 odd spectators going with a goal in the first seven minutes.

Rolling back the years, Saviola, who shared a World Cup campaign with Lionel Messi in 2006, rifled home a magnificent side volley to open the floodgates for Barcelona.

A popular figure during his playing days for Barcelona between 2001-2007, the crowd started chanting Saviola's name after the goal.

There were also chants of 'Barca Barca' reverberating around the stadium which wore a festive look less than a month to the Durga Puja festival.

Saviola showed glimpses of his renowned pace and dribbling skills after the goal before the 2004 Copa America finalist was substituted shortly after the half hour mark.

In the 29th minute though, the catalan legends doubled their advantage much to the delight of the spectators, who for a day thronged the stands not to root for the home side but cherish the skill of the feted away outfit.

Roger Garcia, who donned the Barcelona jersey between 1995-1999 featuring in 78 games for them, scored from the edge of the box with a deft left-footer which nestled into the far corner of the net.

In the 43rd minute, Pedro López Martínez Landi made it 3-0 for the Spanish side with a panenka kick from the penalty spot.

Mohun Bagan Legends goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey pulled off a good save in the second half before Saviola took to the greens once again in the 60th minute.

Three minutes later, Jari Litmanen joined the party by converting from close range.

In the last ten minutes of the game, Litmanen (87th) and former Indian Super League sides ATK and FC Goa player Jofre Mateu (90+2) added to the tally.

For Mohun Bagan, a club ten years older than Barcelona, former India captain Aloke Das led the side which also had the likes of Basudeb Mondal, Syed Rahim Nabi, Hemanta Dora, Ashim Biswas, Dipendu Biswas, Habibur Rehman, Kalyan Choubey among others.

Biswas missed a sitter in the first period and that turned out to be Mohun Bagan's only chance of the game bossed by their more illustrious rivals.

The Barcelona team was coached by Albert ‘Chapi' Ferrer, who played under Johan Cruyff and won the Champions League in 1992.

Under Ferrer, the legends team has won five of their eight matches including a 2-2 draw against Manchester United legends. Their last game was in Romania in June.

At the end of the game, shutterbugs mobbed the Barcelona stars as they went around the stadium to acknowledge the crowd with a wave.

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