Writer: Tactful Sheik
Date:Wednesday August 1 2007
Tannadice Park, Dundee
26th July 2007 (8pm)
If anyone was going to score for Barcelona against Dundee United at Tannadice, it had to be former Arsenal captain Thierry Henry on his debut.
Not that Dundee United made it easy for the Catalan side, pulling off a very impressive performance against Ronaldinho and co.
Infront of a sell-out 14,000 attendance, media men from all over the globe and the Setanta TV cameras, Dundee United acquitted themselves admirably and earned the respect of their Spanish opponents.
Although, with just 10minutes remaining, it looked like it was going to be Dundee United captain Barry Robson who would be stealing the limelight.
However, inept Scottish referee Craig Thompson was having none of it and spoiled the party, by chalking off a perfectly legitimate headed goal from Robson - because the partial-sighted whistler claimed he`d spotted a non-existent push on Eric Abidal..
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard fielded a starting line-up of unknowns, including someone called Ronaldinho and a couple of mediocre players like Samuel Eto`o, Iniesta, Thuram, Xavi and Zambrotta.
Meanwhile, Craig Levein put together a team of world beaters, including injury-prone Lee Wilkie, the always inconsistent Mark Kerr and struggling-to-score striker Noel Hunt upfront.
After scoring early goals against Airdrie and Raith Rovers in previous friendlies, it was no surprise that Dundee United got off to a good start - with Craig Conway coming close in the first 5 minutes.
A cross from the right found Conway unmarked at the backpost, but the winger panicked at the though of scoring against Barcelona, blasting his volley wide of Victor Valdes`s right-hand post.
Then, a few moments later, defender Lee Wilkie found himself in the unusual position of being 1-on-1 with Valdes, but the Barcelona keeper rushed off his line to block Wilkie`s tame effort.
Barcelona`s best chance of the match came from the feet of the brilliant Ronaldinho, when he beat United keeper Szamotulski with a curling free kick from just outside the penalty box, but his shot clipped the edge of the right-hand post and went out for a goal kick.
Just before half-time, Szamotulski made a dramatic recovery to prevent Barca breaking the deadlock, when he rushed back to block an effort from Eto`o, who had taken the ball around him after a clever flick from Ronaldinho.
Frank Rijkaard fielded a completely different side in the 2nd half, granting Thierry Henry his debut after his £16million summer move from Arsenal.
However, it was another substitute - Bojan - who almost broke the deadlock after 75minutes, when he found himself 1-on-1 with the United keeper, but Szamotulski expertly turned the shot past the post.
Then, controversy, as Barry Robson scored for Dundee United.
The United captain rose above 2 Barcelona defenders, to head the ball into the far corner of the goal, but his efforts were ruled out for a push - much to the disbelief of almost everyone inside Tannadice.
With just moments remaining, the United squad much have been feeling pleased with themselves after a job-well-done, but they say that pride comes before a fall.....and that`s what happened.
Substitute Giovani feel very easily inside the penalty box, after a challenge from defender Darren Dods, allowing Thierry Henry the chance to win the match from the spot.
Henry confidently stepped up to fire a low drive into the right-hand corner, but to everyone`s surprise Szamotulski casually dropped to save his tame effort - unfortunately Henry pouched on the rebound and scored his 1st Barca goal from about 3 yards.
Dundee United`s 100% win record against Barcelona was lost after Henry`s goal, but Lee Wilkie could have continued to hoodoo with a late headed effort in injury time - though Juliano Belletti was unfortunately in the right place to clear off the line.
Grzegorz Szamotulski (GK), Sean Dillon (RB), Christian Kalvenes (LB), Lee Wilkie (CB), Darren Dods (CB), Willo Flood (RM), Craig Conway (LM), Morgaro Gomis (CM), Mark Kerr (CM) Barry Robson (SS), Noel Hunt (CF)
Dundee United 0-1 Barcelona
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Date:Wednesday August 1 2007
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