Former Barca stars win hearts in Kolkata

Former Argentina forward Javier Saviola drew the first blood, and starred through the game, as the Barcelona Legends defeated the Mohun Bagan legends 6-0 at the Saltlake Stadium.

Javier Saviola (L), Juliano Belletti (2nd R), Edmilson (R) with coach Albert Ferrer (2nd L) during a media conference in Kolkata.   -  PTI

Chants of ‘Barca, Barca’ were heard loud and clear from the stands of Saltlake Stadium as former Barcelona players stole the show in an exhibition game here Friday.

The scoreline may have read a lopsided 6-0 in favour of Barcelona in the ‘Clash of the Legends’ against Mohun Bagan veterans, but it was the spirit of the beautiful game that won the hearts of about 25,000 football fans.

The scoreline would have made a team dejected on any given day but such was the occasion that the players were seen hugging each other and exchanging pleasantaries after the match.

On the field, it was former Argentina forward Javier Saviola who drew the first blood. Before the Mohun Bagan veterans could settle down, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist fired in from midfield in the seventh minute in a goal that opened the floodgates for the visitor.

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Saviola went off for a while but only to return in the second-half and showed his subtle moves.

Having 28 players on its list, Mohun Bagan had three goalkeepers under the bar - starting with Sandip Nandy, then Kalyan Choubey and finally Hemanta Dora - but there was no respite.

Roger Garcia, who donned the Barcelona jersey between 1995-1999 featuring in 78 games, struck from the edge of the box with a deft left-footed to double the lead in the 29th minute.

Pedro Lopez Landi (43rd) made it 3-0 before the break before Jari Litmanen’s brace including one from the spot (63rd, 87th) made it a one-way traffic.

Jofre Mateu, a familiar face in Kolkata after he had donned the ATK jersey in the inaugural Indian Super League season, sealed the match in the final minutes of the game.

Mohun Bagan had its moments too, when Kalyan Choubey made a brilliant save thwarting Edmilson’s goal in the second-half.

The Mariners, like the barcelona legends, fielded a big squad with the likes of Ashim Biswas, Alok Das who wore the captain’s arm band, Basudev Mondal, Anik Ghosh, Prasanta Chakraborty, Basudev Mondal, Sasthi Duley, Dipendu Biswas, Syed Rahim Nabi, Habibur Rahman and Amit Ghosh among others.

As the giant floodlights dimmed, the former Barcelona stars bid goodbye to the football-loving crowd of the city.

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