Ronaldinho defends Eto'o for cup win walk out

August 21, 2006

MADRID, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Ronaldinho has defended his Barcelona team mate Samuel Eto'o for his decision not to celebrate Sunday's victory in the Spanish Super Cup after being replaced by new signing Eidur Gudjohnsen at halftime.

The Cameroon international, top scorer in the Spanish league last season with 26 goals, left the Nou Camp before the end of Barcelona's 3-0 victory and did not pick up his winner's medal.

'What happened is understandable because he's the sort of player that wants to be on the pitch all the time and if he isn't he's unhappy,' Ronaldinho told reporters on Monday.

'It's better that he's like that than if he didn't mind not playing and we all hope that he continues to retain the same hunger to play.

'Anyway these things are best sorted out in the dressing room.'

Barca coach Frank Rijkaard had also played down the incident in his post-match news conference on Sunday.

'It is true he left early,' he said. 'After a match emotions are running high and it is better to sleep on it and talk about it the following day.'

The Spanish and European champions picked up where they left off last season with a scintillating display against King's Cup winners Espanyol. A neat header from Xavi and two well crafted goals from Deco allowed them to ease their way to a 4-0 aggregate win over their city rivals.

'Barca played well and there were some moments of spectacular football,' said Rijkaard. 'But it was only one game and we have to keep working hard. I'm very pleased that Barca made such a good impression, though.'

Barca will have a chance to add a second trophy to their collection when they play UEFA Cup winners Sevilla for the European Super Cup in Monaco on Friday.