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Classy Barcelona humble Mohun Bagan in legends' exhibition friendly

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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Jari Litmanen scored a brace for the Blaugrana legends against the Mariners' greats.

In what was a historic affair at the Salt Lake Stadium, the Mohun Bagan legends took on the visiting Barcelona legends in a charity exhibition match, which the Blaugrana won 6-0.

The likes of Simao Sabrosa, Juliano Beletti, Javior Saviola and Edmilson all appeared for the Blaugrada legends side. The Mohun Bagan team featured legends like Dulal Biswas, Habibur Rahman Mondal, Sandip Nandy and current coach Sankarlal Chakraborty himself! Mohun Bagan were the ones to create the first big chance in the 4th minute, when Ashim Biswas and Syed Rahim Nabi linked well before the latter’s low shot was saved well by the keeper.

But it was the Bacelona who drew first blood in the 7th minute when Jofre’s exquisite pass split open the Mariners defense and allowed the striker to hit a thumping shot that rocketed into the net. Edmilson was proving his stunning ability in midfield by controlling the game in the early minutes.

He took an ambitious shot from the half-line in the 16th minute after seeing Nandy out of his line, but the Mariners keeper barely held onto it.  The Mariners created a great chance when Habibur Rahma’s fantastic long shot set Ashim one-on-one with Albert Joaquera, but he couldn’t chip over the acrobatic keeper.

The Blaugrana looked in full control of the game and doubled their lead in the 29th minute. After a fluid movement, Saviola received the ball inside the box and laid it off for Roger Garcia, whose sweet shot brazed into the goal. Edmilson took another powerful shot at goal three minutes later, but it was saved comfortably by Nandy. The visitors created another beautiful move in the 39th minute when a terrific ball from Juliano Beletti found Jari Litmanen inside the box, but he couldn’t connect his shot that well.

Striker Pedro Lopez Landi was brought down inside the box by Habibur Rahman in the 43rd minute, awarding Barcelona a cheap penalty. The Barcelona striker struck a panenka to score the attempt gracefully and give the Blaugrana a formidable lead heading into half-time.


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Barcelona started the 2nd half in a same controlling manner, with the Mariners looking unable to cope up with their fluidity. Ashim Biswas showed a dazzling piece of skill in the 51st minute when he skillfully went past a defender on the right flank, but nobody could get to the end of his cross. Edmilson went close to score another one when his curling shot in the 51st minute struck the post and went out.

The Brazilian got another attempt to complete his brace six minutes later when Jofre’s impressive pass found him free inside the box. But his shot was saved amazingly by Mohun Bagan’s substitute keeper Kalyan Chaubey, who proved to retain his impressive shot-stopping saves with the terrific stop. Landi was sent through on goal in the 60th minute but failed to complete his brace with his shot blazing the side-netting.

Jari Litmanen also got into the score-sheet after a fine, attacking move in the 63rd minute. A stunning passing movement penetrated The Mariners defense too easily and the former Ajax star easily curled the ball from underneath Chaubey’s body.   The game lost its pace after the hour mark, with the difficult conditions and age of the players getting to them after a point of time.

Litmanen tried to get his brace in the 83rd minute when his curling attempt deflected off a player and went out for a corner. Barcelona did score off that corner, but it was adjourned off-side which saved the Mariners form further humiliation. Saviola got a chance to get another a minute later, but his ambitious chip was held by Hemanta Dora.

Simao Sabrosa forced a good, diving save from Hemanta Dora in the 86th minute which denied the Portuguese a goal. But Litmanen sealed his brace a minute later when a great cross from Roberto Fernandes found his powerful header which brazed into. Dora made another stunning save from Saviola a minute later to prove his goalkeeping ability. Barcelona finished the game with another stunning move, when Juliano Belleti sent in a great ball from the right to tee up Jofre to score Barcelona’s sixth and end the game on a high.

Barcelona's coach Albert Ferrer spoke about the atmosphere after the game and said, "Themosphere was excellent today. It was a pleasure to play in front of such a big crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium. It was among the biggest we've ever played in front off."

He praised his opponents and said, "Mohun Bagan played well when they had the ball. Our main objective was to keep the ball, but when they got it, they were threatening." He also spoke about development of Indian Football and praised it. He stated: "In Spain, the interest for the Indian Super League is getting stronger and stronger. More people are starting to talk about the India Football stuff. I wish then all the best for the future."

What we do in Barcelona is we stick to a philosophy and structure our team accordingly. It'll be good for Indian football if they develop their own philosophy.

Published: Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:21 PM IST

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