LONDON - Barcelona's players were
overjoyed to have shown off their dazzling brand of football to
win the Champions League on Saturday with a performance that
left even opponents Manchester United spellbound.
The Spanish champions threw coach Pep Guardiola in the air
and cut out the net from one of the Wembley goals as they
celebrated winning a fourth European Cup with a mesmerising
display of their fantastic passing game in a 3-1 victory.
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"The people watching could see that we not only won but we
played a brilliant match," Guardiola told Spanish television.
Defender Javier Mascherano agreed, telling Sky television:
"We are happy because we played in the way we know to play."
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson reckoned his side had been
beaten by "the best team we have faced" and there could be no
humiliation in losing.
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"From time to time you come up against a team far better
than you and tonight was that night," Ferguson told ITV
television. "They are at a tremendous peak in the cycle of their
team. There are teams that elevate themselves to that status.
"Today we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there
is no shame in that."
Hot favourites for the title from the start of the season,
Barca were thrilled to have lived up to expectations and win a
trophy Guardiola said required "a hell of a lot of effort".
"We knew the potential we had and we just had to make the
most of it," forward David Villa, who scored an 18-metre curler
for Barca's third goal, told Spanish television.
"It's been a great deal of work... to be happier right now
would be impossible."
The trophy was lifted by full-back Eric Abidal, who was
handed the honour by captain Carles Puyol after the Frenchman's
recovery from surgery on a liver tumour in March.
"Three months ago, Abidal had a cancer and he suffered and
(so did) his family," Guardiola told ITV.
"He recovered and I think we all showed, his team mates, to
the club and to the rest of the world, the level of the human
being that is this guy. As coach it is a privilege to train
United, outplayed for so much of the game, could have no
complaints but took some comfort from giving a better account of
themselves than in their defeat by Barca in the 2009 final.
"I think we gave it a better shot than we did last time,"
centre-back Rio Ferdinand told Sky.
"Although the scoreline was 3-1 we did have quite a few
opportunities... but it wasn't to be. You've certainly got to
give credit to them, they were the better side on the night.
He added his team could have dealt better with a couple of
the goals but that the "sucker punch" had been Lionel Messi's
strike early in the second half that pulled Barcelona ahead.
"They are a great side, great players, they have a way of
playing they all know. It was up to us to combat that and we
didn't do that," he told ITV.
United captain Nemanja Vidic said his side had not dealt
with Barca's devastating movement on the ball.
"We didn't do what we should have done, we shouldn't have
given them time on the ball which they had," he said. "When they
have time on the ball, the final pass is easy."
Mascherano rubbed salt in United's wounds by dedicating the
win to fans of his former club Liverpool - United's arch
"After my exit they (Liverpool fans) were a little sad with
me but this is for them as well," he said.
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