Thu, Dec 01, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Stars shine during a Match for Peace

FUN REPLACES THE GUNSpanish champs Barcelona faced an Israeli-Palestinian team in an event aimed at promoting reconciliation in the volatile Middle East

AP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

Actor Sean Connery, second right, and Ronaldinho, right prepare to take a ceremonial kick off during a "Match for Peace" in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

FC Barcelona defeated a combined Israeli-Palestinian team 2-1 on Tuesday in a "Match for Peace" aimed at supporting efforts at halting violence in the Middle East.

Midfielder Deco opened the scoring at Camp Nou stadium with a 60th-minute lob, while striker Maxi Lopez doubled the Spanish champion's lead five minutes later.

Abas Suan, who plays for Hapoel Bnei Sachnin, pulled the Israeli-Palestinian side within a goal in the 67th minute.

Coached by Israeli Dror Kashtan and Palestinian Jamal Hadadi, the visitors comprised a squad of 11 Palestinian and 17 Israeli players and played under the name of the Peace Team.

"It's not to do with the professional level of the different players, or what happens at the match, but the coexistence and the tolerance between all of us," Kashtan was quoted as saying at a pre-match news conference by news agency Efe.

Proceeds from the match were to provide support for children in the zone, organizers said.

The game took place a day after the end of the summit in Barcelona between EU heads of state or government and leaders of countries on the Mediterranean's southern rim.

It was attended by former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, who was reported Tuesday to be considering leaving the Labor Party to join forces with Ariel Sharon.

After a ceremonial kickoff by Scottish actor Sean Connery, the game was dominated by Barcelona although it was repeatedly thwarted by goalkeepers Nir Davidovich and Shavit Elimelech, who played a half each.

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Ronaldinho, who was voted European player of the year on Monday, played until halftime.

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said he was proud that his team was involved.

"The result is the least important, because today we all win," Puyol said.

Aston Villa was eliminated from the League Cup on Tuesday, losing 3-0 to lower-ranked Doncaster, while Arsenal advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over Reading.

Doncaster, a League One club sitting 38 places below the Premier League side, reached the quarterfinals of the League Cup for the first time in 30 years.

"We have been playing very well and to do that against a Premiership side was a great performance," Doncaster manager Dave Penney said.

"Three-nil was a great scoreline for us. We just work hard. We play a high tempo and the form we are in we are looking sharp. It is just all clicking together at the moment."

In the other fourth-round match on Tuesday, Birmingham beat Millwall 4-3 on penalties. The match finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and 2-2 after extra time.

Michael McInode's 19th-minute penalty, Paul Heffernan's 52nd-minute goal and Sean Thornton's 79th-minute strike gave Doncaster its win.

"Good luck to Doncaster, they're a good footballing side and try to play football," Aston Villa coach David O'Leary said. "They've beaten Manchester City and ourselves [in the League Cup].

"In the second half they were better than us. We came here not with a patched up side but to win and do well. We've got to move on and start climbing the league."

Arsenal jumped ahead on goals by Jose Antonio Reyes in the 11th minute, Robin van Persie in the 41st and Arturo Lupoli in the 65th. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger used a second-string side for English soccer's second tier club knockout competition, with 10 of the team's field players 23 years old or younger.

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