The A-League All-Stars have been knocked out of a memorable disaster against Spanish giants Barcelona, losing 3-2 after spectators came from behind to win.
The A-League All-Stars were forced to defend almost the entire first half and were lucky to be only 1-0 behind in the main break, Barcelona dominated and the number of shots was three times higher, but lacked a final finish.
But under the coach, former A-League and Manchester United icon Dwight York, who will coach MacArthur FC next season, the All-Stars put up an enthusiastic display in the second half and briefly threatened one of football’s greatest boyovers.
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An expensive turnover from the Spanish side in the middle of the park, led by Wellington Phoenix winger Reno Piscopo, led to the opening goal of the All-Stars, who tapped a ball into a goal-line after a messy contest.
Then just minutes later, in a stunning counter-attack, Wanderers left-back Adama Traver ended a two-on-one situation in the 56th minute to take a 2-1 lead behind the net.
But the lead lasted only 15 minutes, before Barcelona’s Adama Toure and teen star Ansu Fatti returned the lead with two goals in five minutes.
The game’s promised pass was almost a final turn when the Mariners hit Garang Kuol post in the 88th minute.
Then Barcelona grabbed the nerves to watch the last few minutes of the game.
“That’s what I do, it’s unfortunate that I didn’t score,” Cool said of his near-goal late in the game. “As a kid, we used to dream about it. I’ve been watching them since I was five, 10, 15 years old. It’s a dream come true.”
While many have expressed doubts about whether Barcelona will take on a strong team before the match, spectators at the Acre Stadium have not let fans down.
Barcelona’s opening squad included several big names, including Brazilian icon Dani Alves and Spanish veteran and World Cup winner Sergio Busquets.
They included rising teen star Gavi and France’s World Cup winner Usman Dembele, while star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came in the second half when his side fell 2-1.
Barcelona’s experienced left-back Jordi Alba also appeared in the second half.
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