Champions League final: Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0

May 27, 2009

Full-time: Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0.
Samuel Eto’o 10, Lionel Messi 70
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From Mark Meadows at the Stadio Olimpico:
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Not quite the dream final. United just didn’t turn up after that initial burst came to nothing. Barca did what they had to do without being amazing. Did Fergie’s talk of greatness in the buildup get to his men? I’ve never seen United look so nervy. Well done Pep Guardiola.
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2-0 to Barcelona. Messi nods in after a hanging cross for what is a rare header from the Argentine. Ferdinand was no where near him. Game over? A chant of MESSI, MESSI MESSI rings out from my right.
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Wayne Rooney, who has been quiet all night and is now patrolling the right wing, has just failed to put two crosses in to the dangerzone with United well-placed. Dimitar Berbatov is taking off his tracksuit… And he’s on for Park.
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Park is a hair’s breadth from nodding in a Rooney cross, and Park’s got longish floppy hair. United resorting to old fashioned English crosses to try to get a foothold back in the game.
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53: Xavi strikes the post with a low freekick and Van der Sar barely moved at first. Tevez has hardly touched it since coming on. How many packs of gum does Fergie have?
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50: Messi wants a penalty for a push in the box but the referee and most of the neutrals shake their heads.
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Tevez on for Anderson was pretty predictable given the Brazilian did nothing in the first 45.
Tevez has the chance to make a name for himself on what could be his last game for United. Henry tests Van der Sar from close in.
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A curious first half, that. United made such a good start that I bet many of their more pessimistic fans were just waiting for Barcelona to get one against the run of play. United were very cool after going behind. They could probably do with getting in amongst the Barcelona midfield a bit more, stop Barca winning the ball back so quickly. Plenty of time before they have to panic.
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45: Messi has just stormed into the box and Van der Sar fluffed the safe and the ball nearly ran free. That’s got the Barca crowd really excited, especially with United’s midfield all over the place at the moment. Half-time.
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43: Victor Valdes, who took a bit of a knock earlier and is not taking goalkicks, has just been forced to rush out of goal to prevent Ronaldo from a clean run on goal. He’ll be needing some treatment at halftime.
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35: United looking a bit nervous, especially in defence with some tentative passing. Strange for the holders… The fans in Red look especially tense too.
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25: Xavi curls a freekick just over. That caused a lot of ooohs from the crowd. Lionel Messi had earlier shot over but United have still had the better chances despite being behind.
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16: Is former United defender Gerard Pique a lucky man? The Barca centre-back blocks a barnstorming Ronaldo run and gets a yellow, but some in the press box are howling that he was last man. Ryan Giggs shoots over with the free kick.
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10: 1-0 to Barcelona: Samuel Eto’o. Completely against the run of play Eto’o beats Nemanja Vidic very easily to get into the box and his shot goes in despite Edwin van der Sar getting touch. That followed two more good chances for Ronaldo. Was Barcelona’s first attack…
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2: Cristian Ronaldo, who looks dashing in all white (Real Madrid might like that) tests Victor Valdes with a long range free kick first up which the keeper spills. Park Ji-sung is unable to get the rebound on target. The United fans suddenly get noisier.
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1: Barcelona kick off.

Pre-match:

Now the teams are in, and there are no big surprises (see below) here’s Mike Collett’s view from the press seats at the Stadio Olimpico:

Manchester United first out to warm up with 40 minutes to go before kickoff — wearing royal blue tops and white shorts with thousands of fans sainging “Glory Glory Man United…”

Barcelona following them out a couple of minutes later in vivid orange tops reminiscint of the colour they wore when they first won the European Cup in 1992 …. Weather absolutely fantastic, sky still blue, can hardly hear myself talk to colleagues next to me!

No small-talk in the back room for UEFA president Michel Platini, who is out in his seat already. Platini, of course, has decided that this will be the last CL final to be played in midweek. From next season in Madrid the final will be played on a Saturday. Platini wants more familiies and children to have the chance to see the match live and thinks a midweek final restricts schoolkids from going. What about the cost of the tickets?

And this from Mark: The “opening ceremony” starting with what looks like about 50 women dressed in red and green wearing swimming caps and holding shields. Quite what that has to do with Rome or soccer, no one is quite sure…

Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 5-Carles Puyol, 24-Yaya Toure, 3-Gerard Pique, 16-Silvinho; 28-Sergio Busquets, 6-Xavi, 8-Andres Iniesta; 10-Lional Messi, 9-Samuel Eto’o, 14-Thierry Henry.

Manchester United: 1-Edwin van der Sar; 22-John O’Shea, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 3-Patrice Evra; 13-Park Ji-sung, 16-Michael Carrick, 8-Anderson, 11-Ryan Giggs; 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 10-Wayne Rooney.

What does it mean? over to Mark Meadows in Rome: “Iniesta and Henry are fit to start for Barca with Silvinho getting the nod at left back. United’s Park Ji-sung is the first Asian to play in a Champions league final while Ryan Giggs will captain the holders.”

More to come…

Evening all, and welcome to our (first) live Champions League final blog. I’m at Reuters HQ at Canary Wharf but I’ll be passing on live updates from our reporters in the stadium — goal flashes, red cards, near misses and general observations from the best night of the European football season.

I’ll put the latest update at the top…

While we wait on definitive team news — particularly on whether Iniesta and Henry will make the Barcelona starting line-up — here’s Milan-based sports correspondent MarkMeadows, who arrived at the Stadio Olimpico a fairly comfortable five hours before kick-off:

A sprinkling of fans are beginning to enter the stadium on what continues to be another lovely sunny day. ‘FOR SIR MATT’ is written out on the seats in Man Utd’s end. It would have been Busby’s 100th birthday yesterday.

Some of those giant inflatables are also fluttering about behind one goal. Strangely they are all dressed in Barca’s kit.

Fans were congregating in the city centre from early on Wednesday. A ‘sing off’ between the two sets of supporters was heard while the Barca fans have made the Trevi fountain their spot. More United supporters were around the Colosseum.

More to come… And remember, comments are always welcome…

PHOTO: Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o (L) celebrates his goal with teammate Lionel Messi at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, May 27, 2009. REUTERS/Darren Staples

15 comments

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Puyol will have a nightmare, United will win 3-0, Sir Alex will retire, Ronaldo will join Real, Ribery will sign for Barcelona and heaven knows i’ll be miserable….

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

Did the barca’s throw a penny in the fountain for good luck? There should be a far few euros in there

Posted by Claude | Report as abusive

People called Romans they go the house?No it doesntYes it doesWhat have the Romans ever done for us? Hopefully about to put on the best Champ Lge final ever!

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

With Scholes, Ferguson has shown he has no sentimental side but if he wins tonight no one will be complaining among the United fans

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Man Uuuu to win score first and win 2-1. Messi reveals move to newly promoted Torquay United shortly after Barcelona heartbreak.

Posted by Billy big biscuits | Report as abusive

Interesting, Billy. Maybe Portsmouth… now they in the money

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

GO BARCA GO!!!!

It’s looking good so far, Habib.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

half time and United look like they are chasing shadows….awful. my only saving grace is i predicted Utd to go 1-0 down and win 2-1. Unless Tevez comes on & Scholes, take the useless (never scored a goal) Anderson off and Park who (for a change) looks all at sea, Utd will lose easily. barca do not look great but United look worse than Crewe Alex!!

Posted by Hellbent | Report as abusive

go united win

Posted by elroy | Report as abusive

scores of the match barcelona 3 manchester 0

Posted by bongban | Report as abusive

Little way to go yet, bongban. Two goals in last two minutes fgrom United? It’s happened before…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Masterlona 2 – Mansucker Divided 0where are all those thoughts of pulling back 2 goals? ManU were nowhere to be seen on the pitchthey were simply aweful, shame for english clubs. it ws Liverpool who pulled off THE BIGGEST come back in history … and you guys thought tht ManU can do th…. Keep Dreamingnow Fergie will retire, Ronaldo gone so is Tevez. Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes are aging … ManUtd is becoming OldmanUtd …no wonder they deserved to loose ….HATS OFF BARCA !!!

Posted by Umar | Report as abusive

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i love Fc Barcelona!

Forza Barcelona !