Football: Barca tribute to Cruyff

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The Independent Online
A SELL-OUT crowd of 100,000 packed the Nou Camp last night to pay an affectionate tribute to Johan Cruyff.

The Dutchman, arguably the most successful and certainly one of the best loved coaches in Barcelona history, had reassembled his old Dream Team - plus a few star names from world football - to take on the current Barca side, who won 2-0.

Cruyff gave plenty of evidence that his competitive spirit lives on three years after his Nou Camp exit. He spent much of the match, not officially part of the club's centenary celebrations, gesticulating at his players, who were wearing the orange shirts of Barcelona's European Cup final win at Wembley in 1992 .

Banners proclaiming "We love Johan" and "Cruyff, king of our hearts" bedecked the stands, while every pass from Ronald Koeman, every flick from Hristo Stoichkov, every feint inside from Michael Laudrup was warmly cheered.

Cruyff's Dream Team - the side who brought four league titles and the European Cup to Barcelona in the four years at the start of the 1990s - were given just a little help from their friends.

The likes of Eric Cantona, Danny Blind, Luc Nilis and Jorge Campos showed their appreciation for the Dutch great by making cameo appearances and providing a welcome rest for a few ageing limbs.

Patrick Kluivert somehow contrived to miss five clear-cut opportunities before putting Louis van Gaal's Barcelona ahead on 44 minutes, following a perfectly weighted through ball from Philip Cocu.

The Brazilian striker Giovanni made it 2-0 with an artful 20-yard chip after 65 minutes.

Fiorentina advanced to the Italian Cup final last night but only in extra time and after Bologna's Jonathan Binotto goals in each half to level the aggregate score at 2-2.

Tomas Repka's deflected shot eight minutes into extra time put Fiorentina ahead and Rui Costa added a late penalty to confirm the 4-2 aggregate victory.

Fiorentina now meet Parma who beat Internazionale 2-1 on Tuesday and 4-1 on aggregate.

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