Maroon Memories: Huge crowd sees Hearts take on Barcelona

Ronaldinho scored twice for Barca
Ronaldinho scored twice for Barca
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Hearts 1, Barcelona 3. Saturday, July 28, 2007

Barcelona wrapped up their well-received visit to Scotland with victory over Hearts in front of a 57,857 crowd at Murrayfield. The Catalans beat Dundee United 1-0 at Tannadice on Thursday night thanks to a last-gasp goal by debutant Thierry Henry but this was a more comfortable victory for the visitors.

Two first-half goals by Ronaldinho, sandwiched either side of a Juho Makela equaliser, gave a slick-moving Barcelona side an interval lead.

Half-time substitute Giovanni Dos Santos scored the third five minutes into the second half but in truth the result did not reflect the gulf between the two sides.

A remarkable crowd of 57,857 turned up at the home of Scottish rugby to watch this challenge match and not surprisingly, it was Ronaldinho who caught the eye with his first-half double.

Samuel Eto’o should have opened the scoring in the 16th minute but from only eight yards out, the Cameroonian striker headed Andres Iniesta’s mis-hit shot over the bar.

Hearts had FBK Kaunas’ Audrius Ksanavicius playing as a trialist but the Lithuanian midfielder failed to impress five minutes later when he conceded a penalty for tripping Italy international defender Gianluca Zambrotta.

Ronaldinho coolly sent Craig Gordon the wrong way but Barca’s lead was short-lived.

In the 23rd minute the Gorgie side were level when playmaker Laryea Kingston’s free-kick to the back post was headed back across goal by Lee Wallace.

Amid a crowd of players, Makela reacted first to turn and knock the ball into the corner of the net from just six yards.

In the 35th minute Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart put Ksanavicius through on goal with a clever pass at the edge of the box but the Lithuanian failed to connect properly and goalkeeper Victor Valdes saved easily.

Six minutes from the interval Barcelona restored their lead rather easily when Sylvinho’s pinpoint cross from wide on the left gave Ronaldinho the easiest of tasks, heading past Gordon.

Both line-ups changed dramatically for the second half, Barca bringing on seven substitutes and Hearts making six changes, all of which served simply to confuse the early play.

Two Barca substitutes, however, combined to give the Catalans their third goal six minutes after the restart, Henry cutting the ball back for Dos Santos to fire into the empty net.

That goal deflated the disjointed Jambos and in the 68th minute they nearly lost a fourth when Henry drove 16-year-old Bojan Krkic’s clever reverse pass off the outside of the post.

Krkic came close himself in the 81st minute when he fired over the bar from just inside the box while Henry missed the simplest of headers from Deco’s flighted free-kick.

The latter stages of the game provided more evidence of Barca’s renowned ability while highlighting to Hearts that they have much to do before their Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League opener against rivals Hibernian at Tynecastle on Monday week.

Hearts (4-5-1): Gordon; Karipidis, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Makela, Kingston, Tall, Stewart, Ksanavicius; Velicka. Subs: Banks 75 (for Gordon), Neilson 46 (for Berra), McCann 46 (for Ksanavicius), Pospisil 59 (for Tall), Mikoliunas 46 (for Makela), Jonsson 69 (for Zaliukas), Ivaskevicius 46 (for Stewart), Palazuelos 46 (for Kingston), Beniusis 46 (for Velicka), Elliot 59 (for Wallace), McGowan 85 (for Karipidis).

FC Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Zambrotta, Thuram, Oleguer, Sylvinho; Xavi, Toure, Iniesta; Ezquerro, Eto’o, Ronaldinho. Subs: Belletti 46 (for Zambrotta), Motta 65 (for Toure), Crosas 74 (for Thuram), Valiente, Maxi Lopez, Delgado 87 (for Xavi), Henry 46 (for Eto’o), Olmo, Krkic 46 (for Ezquerro), Dos Santos 46 (for Ronaldinho), Deco 46 (for Iniesta), Abidal 46 (for Sylvinho), Jorquera 46 (for Valdes), Olazabel.

Referee: Dougie McDonald.

Attendance: .