27 May 2009

BARCELONA 2 (Eto'o 18, Messi 70)

Ronaldo won a free kick 30 yards from goal, Valdes spilled his shot and former Man United defender Pique made an excellent block before Park could follow up. Evra and Anderson emerged from traffic on Barca's left, as Evra was tackled by Puyol the ball broke for Ronaldo who recovered from an awful first touch to flash a half volley wide of Valdes' right post. Barca took the lead with their first attack against the run of play. Carrick lost possession in midfield, Messi and Iniesta swapped passes before Iniesta burst past Anderson and Carrick and played a wonderfully weighted ball out to Eto'o on the right of the penalty area, Eto'o stepped inside Vidic and toe poked a shot past VDS just as Carrick's sliding tackle arrived a split second too late. Valdes took a knock when coming off his line to clear from Ji-Sung Kuyt as he ran down an Anderson pass.

Tevez, who was ruled out as the Missing Link following the discovery of Ida by Palaeontologists earlier this week, replaced Anderson at half time. In a moment of pure comedy the tiny Iniesta held off O'Shea as he tried to recover a ball he lost, Iniesta chipped it between two Man United players to Xavi who released Henry with another perfectly weighted pass, Henry destroyed Ferdinand as he cut inside the box, turning him inside out but VDS was equal to a predictably powder puff finish. Iniesta drew a free kick on the edge of the Man United box. Xavi stepped up and struck a fantastic low shot straight through a gap between Busquets, who had the presence of mind to duck, and Vidic, the ball thundered off the inside of VDS's left post. PUYOL intercepted a goal-kick on the half-way line and ran towards the penalty area before passing out wide to Eto'o, and no I am not making this up, as usual Eto'o gave the ball away, his cross was charged down but Evra only cleared as far as Xavi who looked up and floated a glorious inswinging cross just above Ferdinand for Messi, who lost Vidic with criminal ease, to head into the bottom corner. It took a second goal for United to mount their first meaningful attack in over an hour. A superb change of direction by Giggs took him past Busquets and he played a ball out wide to substitute Berbatov, via a Tevez dummy, Giggs shot the Bulgarian's centre against Puyol, the ball broke to Ronaldo and he was denied what appeared to be a certain goal by Valdez who made a heart attack inducing lunge, blocking Ronaldo's shot with his right knee, it was the left that had been injured in the first half collision with Ji-Sung Kuyt. Bam Bam Puyol, of all people, was proving to be a thorn in Manchester United's side. Having drawn a foul from Ronaldo he headed the resulting free kick straight at VDS, should be have 3-0. Dirty ginger bastard Scholes picked up his customary yellow card in Europe, for an appalling, jumping scissor foul on Busquets which of course in England would be seen as a perfectly legitimate tackle. Puyol had another chance to score after Keita, Xavi, Eto'o and Xavi again lead the Man United defence a merry dance on the edge of the box, Puyol's heavy first touch allowed VDS to smother the ball.

Ronaldo, like Man United, faded as a bright start. His shots became increasingly wayward, he kept running offside and the ref wasn't buying his puppy dog eyes routine when he appealed for fouls. Well at least he tried, the same can't be said for his team-mates who were pathetic, with Rooney especially disappointing, not that I'm complaining. Barca's control of midfield won them this game. The generic midgets, Xavi and Iniesta, were magnificent. Xavi is the best player in the World.

Today the black cloud that has been hanging over European and World football for the past 12 months has been lifted. Congratulations to Barcelona, the new Champions of Europe.

Attendance : 72,700
Assists : Iniesta, Xavi