Uefa Cup: Phone call costs Gerard place in Barcelona team

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The Independent Online

The Barcelona midfielder Lopez Gerard was dropped from the starting line-up for his team's Uefa Cup tie against Slovakia's Puchov on Wednesday for using a mobile phone in the changing-room.

"What happened was a shame, because he was going to play," the Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, said. "I had to drop him because of what happened just a few minutes before the game was due to get underway. The use of mobile phones in the changing-room is prohibited. He broke the rules and I can't stand for that.

"I know that he feels bad about it, but this is a warning to both him and his team-mates. There has to be discipline when the team prepares for games like this."

Marc Overmars took Gerard's place in the side but Barça failed to gel and they could only manage a 1-1 draw after Puchov equalised in the last minute.

Last night, the rural Croatian club Kamen Ingrad held the German side Schalke 04 to a goalless draw in their first-leg match.

Schalke, the Uefa Cup winners in 1997, have been struggling in the Bundesliga and, with seven regulars sidelined because of injury or suspension, their poor form continued against the Croats.

Schalke had to wait until the 73rd minute for their best opportunity, which came after Mike Handke, a 19-year-old trying to score his first goal for the club, met a cross from the near side with a powerful shot that smacked off the post.

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