MADRID - The ecstatic face of Barcelona's
Andres Iniesta adorned the front pages of the Spanish
newspapers on Thursday after his dramatic goal in added time
sent Pep Guardiola's side through to the Champions League
Pictures showed the normally unassuming 24-year-old
midfielder from the village of Fuentealbilla near Albacete
roaring in triumph, yellow Barca shirt in hand, as he sprinted
to the corner flag to celebrate his 93rd-minute strike.
British newspapers sympathised with Chelsea's claims of a
poor refereeing performance by Norwegian Tom Henning Ovrebo but
were united in their condemnation of Didier Drogba and Michael
Ballack's post-match protestations.
"Iniesta, a heavenly goal," (El Pais), "Iniesta the quiet
hero," (El Mundo), "Iniesta works the miracle," (As), were some
of the headlines in Spain, many with a religious theme.
"Now we know who the God of football is," As columnist Juan
Cruz wrote. "His name is Andres, he is shy and he comes from
Albacete. He's a good person and last night he made me cry."
Many newspapers also ran pictures of the thousands of Barca
fans who celebrated into the night at the Canaletes fountain on
the Paseo de las Ramblas in the Catalan capital.
They had barely had time to recover from the outpouring of
joy prompted by Barca's record 6-2 win at Real Madrid on
Saturday that all-but wrapped up the Spanish league title.
Writing in daily El Pais, Luis Martin said Iniesta had
become obsessed with improving his shooting in recent years and
the work had borne fruit on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.
"Barca is in the final in Rome and Iniesta will rightly go
down in the history of the club," he said.
In El Mundo, Miguel Herguedas noted how Iniesta had arrived
at Barca's famed youth academy aged just 12.
"Those early days in Barcelona were hard for this
diminutive and shy Manchegan, far from his family and with the
soccer ball as his only reference point.
"He never raised his voice, nor let himself be seduced by
offers of millions, because he was faithful to the club that
gave him the chance of his life."
British writers also hailed Iniesta's pervasive
"Exquisite Iniesta inflicts far worse suffering than UEFA
will devise" read The Guardian headline ahead of almost certain
punishment from European soccer's governing body for Chelsea
and its players after they angrily surrounded the referee at
the final whistle.
"Cheated Out", "Blue Murder at the Bridge" roared headlines
in the Daily Mail as the press shared Chelsea's astonishment
that none of their penalty appeals, especially a clear handball
by Gerard Pique, had found favour with the referee.
The sympathy dried up, however, as Drogba remonstrated with
Ovrebo as the distraught Chelsea players made their way off the
"The rancour of Chelsea's response to defeat, orchestrated
by the incorrigible Didier Drogba, deserves to earn them
punishment from UEFA as well as the disdain of the rest of the
continent," wrote the Guardian's Richard Williams.
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NEWS: Last-gasp goal validates purist approach
NEWS: Pep hero status further enshrined at Barca
NEWS: Drogba likely to suffer ire of UEFA
NEWS: Hiddink: Worst refereeing I've seen
LA LIGA LOCA BLOG: What's Catalan for 'Have It'?
NEWS: Media hails Iniesta and berates Drogba
NEWS: United vs Barca hailed as dream final
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