Sunday, 29 May 2011

It all gets Messi as Manchester United are Outclassed

Barcelona delivered a masterclass to inflict another Champions League final defeat on Manchester United as Lionel Messi inspired an emphatic victory at Wembley.Manchester United's hopes of emulating their first European Cup final success here against Benfica in 1968 foundered as Barcelona deservedly repeated their win against Sir Alex Ferguson's side in Rome two years ago.The pattern of an entertaining game bore an uncanny resemblance to events in the Stadio Olimpico in 2009 as United started with optimism and intent before being swamped by Barcelona's brilliance.Pedro gave Barcelona the lead from one of the many wonderful passes played by Xavi - but Wayne Rooney lifted the gloom during a torrid spell for United with a fine equaliser following a swift exchange with Ryan Giggs.

Barcelona responded by cranking up what Ferguson labelled their passing "carousel" after the break, with man-of-the match Messi at the centre of events as he tortured United.

Messi's magical feet were decorated by luminous green boots but it was his talent that illuminated Wembley and United's night was effectively over once he restored Barcelona's lead with a powerful drive early in the second half.

David Villa's spectacular third emphasised the gulf in class between the sides and United never threatened to mount the sort of dramatic recovery that has become their trademark.

Ferguson and his players were disconsolate at the final whistle as the nightmare of Rome was revisited but there was no shame in their defeat by one of the finest club sides the game has seen.

There was to be no fulfilling of the destiny United hoped was theirs and no dream conclusion to goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's glittering career as he was powerless to prevent Barcelona's constant wave of beautifully crafted moves.

And as veteran Paul Scholes, who made a brief appearance as substitute, walked up to collect his losers' medal, thoughts turned to whether this was also his final bow as he considers his future at Old Trafford.

United had hoped to add a fourth victory in Europe's elite club tournament to a record 19th domestic title - instead they received a brutal lesson in the standards they must achieve from the Barcelona benchmark.

Ferguson insisted he had learned the lessons of defeat in Rome but the same problems swiftly resurfaced as Barcelona stamped their authority on midfield and Messi roamed free to inflict damage, adding another Champions League final goal to the one that sealed victory against United in their previous meeting.

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