Soccer fans packed Reliant Stadium to witness a powerful FC Barcelona comeback to tie Club América 4-4 Wednesday night. The sold-out crowd of 77,550 is the largest soccer crowd in
The match was tied, 1-1, for most part of the first half despite constant attacks from both teams to the goal posts. In the 30 th minute, however, Mexican forward Nelson Cuevas found himself alone with Barcelona's goalie, Victor Valdes, and shot straight through to the net, making the score 2-1 in favor of Club América. A minute before heading into the locker rooms, forward Claudio Lopez found and assisted Cuevas for his third goal of the night.
The Spanish team rebounded fiercely, attacking the América goal line, but the only score they found was from Oleguer on his own goal in the 65 th minute. The game seemed to have ended, but soccer sensation Ronaldinho had not entered the match yet.
Twenty minutes later, Javier Saviola fired a shot assisted by Samuel Eto'o, making the score 4-2. Ronaldinho took it from ther,e giving the audience what they'd come to see.
In the 89 th minute, he drew a penalty kick and brought the crowd to its feet as he lined up to take the shot. América goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, couldn't stop the ball as it went over his right side and into the net.
The "friendly" game between the América and
quickly turned competitive as the Mexican defense struggled to keep the ball away from the goal. In the 90 th minute Saviola found Eto'o to seal the tie for the Spanish league champions.
The match was the third stop for the FC Barcelona
head coach, Frank Rijkaard, praised the organizers of the event for the publicity the match has given the sport.
"It was a good night for soccer," Rijkaard said. "The fans turned up the volume and created an exciting atmosphere for our players to play in. In return, we wish that they enjoyed themselves as much as we did. They (fans) went home satisfied and we're leaving happy as well."
Rijkaard was impressed with the competition the Mexican team gave them.
"Tonight's match was a good representation of what the Mexican clubs are doing and the level of play on this side of the world," Rijkaard said. "The matches don't always go as planned, but it's good competition for us to begin preparing for the clubs in our league. This is a great place to play soccer and we're excited to have had this opportunity."
Club América head coach Luis Fenando Tena credited
with a good second half that resulted in the tie.
came out stronger than we did the second period," Tena said. "We prepared well because we knew we were going against one of the premier clubs in the world. Both teams played extremely well, we're both obviously in the preparation stages of our season. But I still believe we played one of the best matches this audience could have seen."
The teams arrived in
"We haven't gotten a chance to do much other than soccer," said 19-year-old Messi, who is from
. "Although we're tired of traveling and all we're doing, in the long run we're having fun playing quality soccer in venues like these. I'm just happy that I was able to get back on the field tonight."
FC Barcelona travels to the east coast to take on Major League Soccer team, the New York Red Bulls, Saturday night.
**Galaxy beat Dynamo
**The Houston Dynamo lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first of match of the doubleheader.
Santino Quaranta could not have asked for a better debut with the L.A. Galaxy than Wednesday night. Quaranta, who was traded Tuesday from D.C. United, scored the match's only goal to put the Galaxy over the Dynamo.
The Galaxy remains tied for last place with
at home Tuesday evening.
Quaranta's goal drew a gasp from Dynamo fans with an unassisted goal on the 69 th minute.
The Dynamo responded by out-shooting the Galaxy, 7-2, and creating good opportunities for a score during the second half of the match. But goalkeeper Kevin Hartman had two saves until an Eddie Robinson shot found the net. The goal was deflected by the referees for a handball call, fading any hope of a Dynamo comeback.
The Galaxy was charged with a yellow card when midfielder Peter Vagenas tackled Brad Davis from behind in the 40 th minute.
"I feel that the way we played I should be standing here with a victory," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We played a good match and though we are aware that the fans came to see FC Barcelona and América, it was an exciting event and hopefully we've drawn some fans."