Barcelona survived a mighty scare to come from behind to claim a 3-2 friendly victory against the A-League All Stars at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
In front of 70,174 fans — mostly of Barcelona persuasion — the Dwight Yorke-coached All Stars claimed an unlikely 2-1 lead in the second half before being pegged back twice in the final 20 minutes on Wednesday.
The selection of the A-League’s best, who were playing their first game since 2014, gave a good account of themselves with departing Wellington winger Reno Piscopo a standout after contributing a goal and assist in the defeat.
In fairness to the All Stars, this was no second-rate Barcelona side given five of Xavi’s starting XI included players who began Sunday’s loss to Villarreal.
Among them were veteran Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets, who immediately flexed their muscles when Alejandro Balde forced Macarthur goalkeeper Filip Kurto into action in the first five minutes.
Brisbane’s Jay O’Shea and Socceroos hopeful Jason Cummings both had chances to put the All Stars ahead but neither could finish past Marc-André ter Stegen.
Barca dominated but could not penetrate in the opening half an hour to the extent fans broke out into spontaneous renditions of the Mexican wave to keep their minds occupied.
Concentration slipped momentarily for the All Stars when Central Coast defender Kye Rowles was beaten by Busquets and within three passes Ousmane Dembélé registered the game’s opening goal.
It was a similar tale two minutes after half-time, but this time it was the All Stars who were the beneficiaries.
Newcastle’s Daniel Penha played a bending ball behind the back of the Barca defence for Anthony Caceres to latch onto and while his shot was saved by substitute goalkeeper Aranau Tenas, an onrushing Piscopo was able to poke home.
The All Stars kept their foot on the throat with a second goal coming in similar fashion six minutes later.
This time Piscopo was played in and he squared to Western Sydney’s Adama Traoré to give Yorke’s side an unlikely 2-1 lead.
Central Coast teenager Garang Kuol nearly made it three when played in but misfired.
That would prove to be the downfall of Yorke’s side with substitute All Stars keeper Andrew Redmayne unable to keep out Barcelona’s own Adam Traoré, who drew Barca level with 20 minutes left.
The strike seemed to spark Barca into gear and they were ahead when wonderkid Ansu Fati cushioned the ball past Redmayne from close range.
Kuol hit the bar in the final minutes but the All Stars could not find the equaliser.
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