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Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Rovers shock Barcelona
Hughes scored a minute after coming on as a substitute
Hughes scored a minute after coming on as a substitute
Blackburn 3-2 Barcelona

Substitute Mark Hughes scored a late winner for Blackburn as they defeated Barcelona 3-2 in a pre-season friendly.

Hughes was only on the field because of an injury to summer signing Corrado Grabbi but less than 60 seconds after his 81st minute introduction he volleyed home the decisive goal.

The result was just reward for an enterprising, industrious Rovers performance against a Barca team including Marc Overmars, Philip Cocu and Patrick Kluivert.

Rovers manager Graeme Souness was delighted with his team's performance.

It was just what we wanted at this stage
Graeme Souness
Blackburn manager

"Everybody worked hard and it is always great to beat such a big team no matter when or how you do it," said the Scot.

"What can you say about Mark Hughes? He will be delighted with his goal but winning is not the most important thing.

"It's about getting your fitness and everybody worked very hard.

"It was just what we wanted at this stage, we concentrated and we were organised."

The match was not so rewarding for Grabbi, who endured a miserable afternoon and was substituted following an accidental penalty box clash 10 minutes from the end.

He was helped from the field clutching his head.

Barcelona took the lead after 18 minutes when an Overmars cross deflected off Stig Inge Bjornebye into the path of Cocu, who shot past Brad Friedel from close range.


But Rovers equalised in the 28th minute when Damien Duff beat Gabriel de la Torre and crossed to the far post for Garry Flitcroft to head home.

Three minutes from half-time Blackburn were awarded a penalty when the impressive Nathan Blake was fouled in the Barcelona area by Philippe Christenval.

David Dunn's penalty was parried but he shot home the rebound.

Javier Saviola excelled for the visitors in the second half and almost created an equaliser for Kluivert with an incisive through-ball, but the Dutch striker hammered his shot against the bar.

Mark Hughes is a dangerous player and he proved it
Carles Rexach
Barcelona coach

Barcelona eventually restored parity through Xavier Hernandez's penalty in the 75th minute.

The spot-kick had been controversially awarded for shirt-pulling.

But Rovers took the lead for the second time through Hughes and the Welsh forward almost increased Blackburn's lead in the final minute but he fired over from 15 yards.

Barcelona coach Carles Rexach paid tribute to Rovers' performance and particularly that of former Barcelona man Hughes.

"He is always a dangerous player and he proved during the game that he doesn't need many opportunities to score a goal," he said.

"They are a typical English team, very aggressive, very direct, and it is a team that maintains the good spirit and the good things about English football."

Links to more Blackburn Rovers stories are at the foot of the page.


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