Barcelona 3 Seville 1: Ronaldinho fires Barça in warm-up for main event

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The Independent Football

A vengeful Barcelona warmed up for Wednesday's Champions' League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a thrilling win against the Uefa Cup holders, Seville, last night.

Juande Ramos' side had stunned the Catalans with a 3-0 European Super Cup victory in August and had started this season well with four victories from five league games, but the superior pedigree of Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, together with some favourable refereeing decisions, told.

Questions had been asked in the Spanish media about the form of several Barça players, particularly Ronaldinho, ahead of three difficult games in a week - the European Cup holders also play away to Real Madrid on Sunday.

Frank Rijkaard denied the suggestion that his team were tired after an extended pre-season in North America, but he did rest the defenders Carles Puyol and Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Both are likely to return at Stamford Bridge and Eidur Gudjohnsen should retain his place against his former team-mates in the absence of Samuel Eto'o, who is out for five months with knee ligament damage.

Barça took the lead after they were awarded a dubious penalty when Belletti, making his first league start of the season, appeared to dive. Ronaldinho converted the penalty.

Seville were level in the 36th minute, when Frédérick Kanouté's header was too powerful for Valdes. Parity did not last long, as Ronaldinho went down easily under a challenge 30 yards from goal in the 38th minute. The Barça stand-in captain smashed the free-kick over the wall into the goal.

Messi completed the scoring, jinking through the Seville defence before hitting a rising shot past Palop in the 80th minute.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Belletti (Zambrotta, 29), Marquez, Thuram, Sylvinho; Iniesta, Xavi, Motta; Gudjohnsen (Saviola, 82), Ronaldinho (Giuly, 74), Messi.

Substitutes not used: Jorquera (gk), Zambrotta, Deco, Oleguer.

Seville (4-4-2): Palop; J Navarro, Dani Alves, Escude, Puerta; Adriano, Renato, Poulsen, Navas; Kanoute, Fabiano (Marti h-t). Substitutes not used: Cobeno (gk), Duda, Drago, Aitor Ocio, Kepa, Maresca.

Referee: C Fernandez (Spain).

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