Eto’o and Messi the heroes as Barcelona stun UnitedBy DPA, Gaea News Network
Thursday, May 28, 2009
ROME - A goal in each half by Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a 2-0 victory in the Champions League final played in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico Wednesday.
Eto’o opened the scoring for the Spanish side in the 10th minute and Messi added a second, 20 minutes from the end, to give Barcelona their third Champions League triumph after success in 1992 and 2006.
Eto’o said that he dedicated the victory to all the clubs’ fans. “I believe I have to thank the whole team for the goal that I scored. They deserve the credit, not just me. It has been long and difficult season, but I think we deserve this triple triumph, having also won the league and the cup.”
Captain Carles Puyol added that the team was happy to be able to repay their fans’ faith. “In the last couple of years we have suffered a lot. Now it is time for us to celebrate because we have worked very hard for this.”
The Spanish King, Juan Carlos, said that he was very happy with the result. “I am delighted and satisfied with this victory and I am sure the whole of Spain is as well.”
United enjoyed the opening spell of the game and Cristiano Ronaldo saw his freekick first saved by Victor Valdes and then cleared by Pique.
In the 10th minute Andres Iniesta set up Eto’o on the right and the Cameroon striker cut in on the inside before pushing the ball under the body of United’s goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The rest of the half belonged to the Spanish side, who seemed to control United. Ronaldo tried to equalise for his side with shots from well outside the area, but he failed to come close.
At half-time the organisers watered the pitch after Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola had requested before the match that they do so to ensure that there would be a fast game.
United coach Sir Alex Ferguson introduced Carlos Tevez for Brazilian Anderson in the second half to create more danger in the Barcelona half, but it was the La Liga side who came closest early on.
French international Thierry Henry was brilliantly set up just three minutes after the restart and ran rings around defender Rio Ferdinand, but van der Sar was quick off his line to deny the striker.
In the 53rd minute Xavi Hernandez saw his powerful free-kick from well outside the area crash against the upright and back into play.
United then came into the match a bit better and Wayne Rooney looked strong when going forward, but often found himself without enough help.
With some 25 minutes remaining Ferguson took off Ji-sung Park, who had been fairly ineffective in the middle for the Premier League side and brought on Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.
Xavi, who had already covered the most ground in the first half, provided Messi with Barcelona’s second goal in the 70th minute when his pin-point cross found the head of the 1.70 metre striker and his header gave van der Sar no chance.
Ronaldo came close to pulling one back for the defending champions just a minute later as he had just Valdes to beat from close range, but the goalkeeper managed to block his effort.
The last chance of the game fell to Barcelona captain Carles Puyol, whose header however went straight into the arms of van der Sar.
In the final minutes of the game United seemed resigned to losing and showed their frustration with unnecessarily harsh tackles.
Italian referee Massimo Busacco was forced to book Ronaldo, substitute Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic.
The defending champions United, who went into the game having won all three previous finals in which they had appeared, had previously gone 25 games without defeat in the Champions League.