ROME: A rare headed goal by Lionel Messi helped Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Champions League final on Wednesday, giving the Spanish side its third European Cup title and third trophy in a magical season.
Samuel Eto’o put the Spanish champions ahead in the 10th minute and Messi’s 70th-minute goal – his ninth in the Champions League this season – sealed the victory over the defending champions at the Stadio Olimpico.
The triumph completed a sweep of titles for 38-year-old Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola in his first season, after wins in the Spanish league and cup.
The former Barcelona star, who started as a ball boy at Camp Nou, now joins the ranks of those who have won the title both as a player and a coach.
Guardiola became the youngest coach to win European soccer’s top club competition since the European Cup became the Champions League in 1993.
Barcelona also won the trophy in 1992 and 2006.
“No team has ever done the treble in Spain, and we’ll be remembered as the first team to do it,” Barcelona striker Thierry Henry said. “That’s amazing.”
United had been chasing its fourth European Cup title, and fourth trophy this season after winning the Premier League, FIFA Club World Cup and League Cup.
But United was thoroughly outplayed by the Spanish side as Messi scored his 38th goal of an amazing year for Barcelona, which has 53 league and cup goals this season.
Xavi floated a diagonal ball into the United area to find Messi unmarked, and the 5-fooot-7 (1.69 m) Argentina striker – renowned for his deft dribbling and shooting – used his head to loop the ball over United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar and into the net.
Messi set off colorful celebrations at one end of the stadium, filled with 62,467 fans, and left English fans in silence.
The loss left Man United manager Alex Ferguson at 25 titles in 23 seasons.
He failed to match Liverpool’s Bob Paisley’s three titles in the competition.
Manchester United fan stabbed in Rome
ROME: A Manchester United fan was hospitalized after suffering a stab wound and 15 people, including United and Barcelona supporters, were arrested by police in separate incidents before the Champions League final Wednesday night in Rome, but no violence was reported immediately after the match’s end.
Dizzy with joy over the 2-0 victory for Barcelona, the Spanish team’s fans were celebrating in the ancient alleys and squares of the Italian capital.
Barcelona supporters playfully dipped their team scarves into the waters of the city’s monumental fountains.
Disappointed British fans filed out of the packed stadium calmly, as police helicopters buzzed over the city on the watch for any pockets of violence.
As up to 50,000 United and Barcelona supporters thronged through Rome earlier in the day, huge numbers of police patrolled the city.