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Barcelona's Pique criticises anti-Spanish chanting in Catalonia's win over Venezuela

Gerard Pique's 10th match for Catalonia was his first since retiring from Spain's national team.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said he told supporters making anti-Spanish chants to "shut up" as he returned to international football in Catalonia's 2-1 friendly victory over Venezuela.

Pique -- who retired from Spain's national team after the World Cup last year -- led out a side at Girona's Montilivi Stadium that also included former Barca stars Bojan Krkic, Marc Bartra, Aleix Vidal and Oriol Romeu.

However, the game's main talking point came when Pique, who has been a prominent speaker during the region's drive for the right to self-determination, told a section of the 12,000-strong crowd at Montilivi to be quiet during the game by raising his finger in the air.

"I told them to shut up because we have to lead by example," the Pique told reporters after the match. "The lack of respect [some fans showed] is intolerable. There is no need for that."

Pique said he does not know when or if Catalonia will ever be able to compete officially on the international stage, but he called for more games to be played regardless of that.

"No one can say when," he added when asked about Catalonia taking steps similar to those taken in recent years by the likes of Kosovo and Gibraltar. "We have a good young team. We played well.

"I'm really happy because it was a party [atmosphere], too. We have to do it more often. It's been two years since we played. This was a festival of Catalan football. Everyone took part and had a great time. It's been a great day."

Javi Puado scored in the 88th minute to give the hosts the win after Bojan's 53rd-minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Roberto Rosales.

Pique, who won the World Cup and two European Championships across his 102 caps for Spain, nearly scored with a curling free kick that struck the crossbar in the first half. The 32-year-old also wore the captain's armband for part of the match, taking it from Sergio Garcia.

Catalonia play roughly one match year, although this was their first game since December 2016.

Catalonia, the region which recently was in the middle of a heated independence dispute with Spain, were missing players because some non-Catalan teams didn't release them to avoid the risk of injures ahead of the final period of the Spanish league.

Catalonia have often put together squads to play in friendly matches against other nations, but clubs are not obligated to release players to the region as the matches are exhibitions not recognised by FIFA.

Venezuela earned a convincing 3-1 win over Argentina in Madrid on Friday, on Barcelona star Messi's first game back after taking a post-World Cup break from internationals. However, after the game Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel offered his resignation because he was not happy with the politicisation of a prematch visit to the squad.

Dudamel, who was on the bench on Monday, had said his future would depend on talks with Venezuelan football federation officials. He did not show up for the postmatch news conference, and an assistant said a decision would be made only after the squad returned to Venezuela.

Information from Associated Press was used in this report.

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