x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Barcelona win Champions League after another football masterclass

Manchester United are soundly beaten 3-1 at Wembley as the Catalan club are the top team in Europe again.

Manchester United are soundly beaten 3-1 at Wembley as the Catalan club are once again, the top team in Europe again.
Manchester United are soundly beaten 3-1 at Wembley as the Catalan club are once again, the top team in Europe again.

Barcelona 3 // Manchester United 1

Barcelona: Pedro 27’, Messi 52’, Villa 69’
Manchester United: Rooney 33’
Man of the match: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

LONDON // In the past three years only the combined might of Jose Mourinho and a volcano has stopped them.

Barcelona won their second Champions League title in three seasons last night, an achievement that might not statistically match the hat-tricks of titles won by Ajax and Bayern Munich in the seventies - or the five in a row Real Madrid won in the late fifties, but is surely its equal in quality.

Only last season's semi-final defeat to Internazionale blemishes Pep Guardiola's record, and that will always be asterisked by the fact Barca had to travel to Milan by bus after their flight was grounded by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland last summer.

This was another master-class.

Barca's domination perhaps wasn't quite so absolute as in Rome in the final two years ago, but they were significantly the better side, playing football of a tempo and precision that has surely never been matched.

Manchester United weren't willing patsies, and played their part in an enthralling game but by the end they were a broken side, resilient, industrious and yet utterly outclassed.

Having survived United's early onslaught, Barca went ahead after 27 minutes, a precise angled pass from Andres Iniesta finding Pedro, who finished neatly at Edwin van der Sar's near post.

United levelled seven minutes later with what was their only clear chance of the game, Wayne Rooney exchanging passes with Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs before sidefooting a finish into the top corner.

Any thought United might spring an upset, though, disappeared in the opening minutes of the second half. Barca were relentless, and United's defensive shape finally slipped, Messi finding room 30 yards out, teeing himself up with a short dart to his right and thrashing a shot past Van der Sar.

Outclassed, United looked exhausted, David Villa settled the game with a deft curler after 69 minutes.

sports@thenational.ae