Inspired by a brilliant performance by Lionel Messi, Barcelona lifted the champions league for the second time in three seasons. Pedro opened the scoring in the first half, with Manchester United leveling through Wayne Rooney. The teams went in 1-1 to the break.
Obviously Pep Guardiola said something inspiring in the Barca locker room because they came out firing on all cylinders from the break. United could hardly get a foot on the ball. This was epitomized by Antonio Valencia, who must have committed three fouls by the time Barca’s second went in. The goal was an absolute scorcher from Messi. He received the ball at the edge of the box took one touch into a channel of space, and while literally surrounded by United defenders, drilled the ball past the outstretched arms of Edwin Van Der Sar.
Barcelona’s free flowing football continued to slice open the United defense and David Villa curled another beauty into the top corner in the 70th minute. From there on in Barcelona dominated possession with only one moment of trouble for Victor Valdes.
At the end, the match delivered on Alex Ferguson’s pre-match prediction of being one of the best matches of the decade. Even though the Premier League champions failed to deliver, their La Liga counterparts more than made up for United’s inability to attack. Once again Barcelona have shown that not only can you compete by playing great football, you can absolutely dominate your opponents, no matter who they are.
Also worth a mention is Van Der Sar’s last game. HE was a top-class goalkeeper, a top-class athlete, and a top professional. He won nearly everything there is to win, multiple times. It will be strange to see the Premier League without the giant Dutch meerkat between the posts. When the final whistle blew though, the day belonged to Lionel Messi, the boy genius.