Barcelona cruise to European glory
Goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi destroyed Manchester United’s hopes of an unprecedented quadruple
Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0. So in the end the last leg of the quadruple understandably proved too much for Manchester United, who were handed a masterclass in the art of retaining possession by an inspired Barcelona last night. Sir Alex Ferguson's team of expensively assembled megastars were unable to hold onto the ball for long enough last night to give their much-vaunted attacking players enough chances to pull back the goals that Barca stroked home on the 10th and 70th minutes.
For their part, Barcelona were magnificent, driven by the peerless Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta in midfield, rarely surrendering possession cheaply and forcing Man Utd players to chase shadows for much of the evening. After a queasy opening 10 minutes in which Cristiano Ronaldo had one free kick and two shots narrowly off target and with Manchester United enjoying almost total dominance, Samuel Eto'o scored, slipping the ball inside Edwin van der Sar at the post and the complexion of the game was reversed.
Up front the decision to start with Ronaldo in the centre, running at his former teammate Pique in the heart of defence was soon scrapped, and Wayne Rooney came inside from his ineffectual position on the left. Then on came Carlos Tevez at half time, followed by Dimitar Berbatov with a quarter of the game to go. Man Utd became predictably unbalanced and an attack down the right for Barca saw little Lionel Messi leap to head Barca's second past van der Sar.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYINGKevin McCarra, the Guardian: "The feathery touch of Barcelona left Manchester United bruised and beaten. It is as well that the victors' good taste extended to winning by a modest margin. The holders were relieved of the European Cup and must take what comfort there is in the appreciation that there is no shame in being outclassed. They could barely engage with Pep Guardiola's side, let alone menace them. Sir Alex Ferguson finds himself outdone by the rookie in the other dug-out but everyone else who has contended for prizes this season has suffered the same experience against Barcelona."
Oliver Kay, the Times: "If Sir Alex Ferguson felt beforehand that United are a club who deserve to have more than three European Cups to their name, he could hardly begrudge Barcelona their third success after a performance that was embellished by goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, and illuminated by the midfield artistry of Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, two wonderful players, who enhanced their reputations further on a night when no United player came close to living up to his." ·
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