peace team 88.
(photo credit: )
A joint Israeli-Palestinian team lost 2-1 to Spanish giants FC Barcelona in the 'Match for Peace' at the Nou Camp Stadium on Tuesday night. But having raised money for Israeli and Palestinian children and sent a message of peace to a worldwide audience, everyone was a winner.
The match was held to raise money to help improve the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children in need and to promote peace in the Middle East.
More than 31,000 people attended the event, raising approximately $120,000.
The match was played in a friendly manner with both sides looking to attack rather than defend.
Barca dominated play for most of the match, but good goalkeeping by Israeli keepers Nir Davidovich and Shavit Elimelech, as well as goodwill by the Barcelona players, who appeared not to want the contest to end in a landslide victory, meant that the Catalans only won by one goal.
"It was a great experience", said Davidovich after the match, "Barcelona is a top side and losing 2-1 is a good score for us".
The Israeli-Palestinian team, which was coached jointly by Israeli Dror Kashtan and Palestinian Jamal Hadaid, began the match with eight Israelis and three Palestinians in the line up.
"Soccer is an international language and I was glad to take part in sending such an important message around the world," said Kashtan. "I hope this match will be the first of many peace related sporting activities in the future".
Hadaid added: "Everybody in Palestine was looking at this match with hope and expectations that it will help and improve the situation."
Barcelona was missing sick coach Frank Rijkaard on the sidelines, but began the match with most of their first choice team including Brazilian Ronaldinho and Cameroonian Sumuel Eto'o.
"It was an honor for us to host this match", said Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol.
"It's a very positive initiative and I hope that it will help the peace process."
Both sides substituted almost their entire lineups during the game, with the first substitution made by the hosts as early as the 30th minute.
Barca seized control of the match from the start and was unlucky not to score in the first ten minutes.
An exceptional performance by keeper Davidovich kept the scores tied, with the first half ending in a goalless tie.
The second half began with both teams eager to end the deadlock and entertain the thousands of fans who came out in the cold European night.
Fourteen minutes into the half the stalemate was finally broken.
Portugal midfielder Deco delicately chipped the ball over the head of substitute keeper Elimelch to put Barca in the lead.
Six minutes later the hosts were already two goals up.
French international Ludvic Giuly broke clear of the defense and squared the ball to striker Maxi Lopez who elegantly back heeled the ball into the net.
However,two minutes after Barcelona's second goal, the Israeli-Palestinian team finally got on the scoreboard.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv midfielder Baruch Dego passed the ball to Israeli international Abbas Suan who fired a shot past the Barca keeper.
It was only appropriate that Arab-Israeli Suan should score the goal for the Israeli-Palestinian team, as he is a perfect example of co-existence between Muslims and Jews.
Both teams continued to attack for the rest of the match, but careless finishing in front of goal meant the game ended at 2-1 leaving everybody happy at nights end.
Ronaldinho shortlisted for FIFA World Player of the Year
Barca's Brazilian star Ronaldinho will be celebrating once more after it was announced he has been shortlisted for FIFA's world player of the year for the second straight time.
The midfielder, who earlier this week won the Golden Ball as Europe's best player, is joined on the three-man shortlist by FC Barcelona teammate Samuel Eto'o and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
For the women, the candidates are last year's player of the year Birgit Prinz of Germany, Shannon Boxx of the United States and Marta of Brazil.
Last year, Ronaldinho beat Arsenal striker Thierry Henry and Andrei Shevchenko of AC Milan to win the award.
Ronaldinho, who joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003, won France Football magazine's Ballon d'Or on Monday. Lampard was runner-up.
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