Barcelona have won the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final by two goals to nil after beating the favourites, Manchester United, in tonight’s final at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
United, who had not been defeated in the Champions League for over two years, started the game the brighter of the two sides, with chances falling to Park Ji-Sung, after a Christiano Ronaldo free kick and the Portuguese himself on two occasions shot narrowly wide from outside the area.
The Barcelona midfield and impressive front line – who had scored 97 goals between them this season – had not touched the ball until the move which saw Barcelona take the lead.
On ten minutes, Valdes in the Barcelona goal hit a long ball forwards. Carrick, in the United midfield, headed the ball straight to his opposite number, Iniesta, who ghosted past two players, before sliding a ball to Samuel Eto’o deep in United territory, though in what appeared an unthreatening position. Eto’o needed no second invitation from Nemanja Vidic, and turned inside, before toe-poking the ball home at Van der Saar’s near post.
Barcelona were one in front after just 10 minutes.
The remainder of the first half was spent with United trying, and failing, to recover from that early goal, and Barcelona retaining possession and composure without really threatening to add to their tally.
The second half, however, saw more space develop as Manchester United started to look for the goal that would see them equalise, without ever really looking like scoring it. Barcelona hit a post, through Xavi, and went close on two occasions before the diminutive Argentine, Lionel Messi scored his first goal against English opposition in heading home unchallenged with twenty minutes remaining.
Despite finishing the match with four forwards on the pitch, United only threatened Barcelona’s goal once in the second half – when Giggs and Ronaldo nearly latched onto a Dimitar Berbatov low cross-field pass.
When the final whistle blew, United looked a team who had been out played from first to last. United’s fans will wonder what if the Reds could have scored through Park in those first few minutes, but few who watched this year’s UEFA Champions League Final will argue that Barcelona were not worth their victory.
Both of these sides, one would imagine, will meet again in next year’s competition, particularly if United can retain Ronaldo and Tevez, who made an impact from the bench in the second half, without ever getting the ball in the final third.
United did not play up to their best tonight; Barcelona were magnificent. After ninety four minutes, it could, in truth, have only finished with one winner today. Barcelona are European Champions, and worthy of the title.