Barcelona Beats Manchester United in Champions League Final

With all those bribery and ethics allegations, FIFA did its best to take some of the limelight away, prior to the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.

But once Barcelona and Manchester took to the Wembley pitch, all was forgotten, at least for the next 90 minutes.

In sports and even in life, events get hyped up so much that when reality comes knocking many times we walk away disappointed.

Not this Saturday.

This one lived up to its hype and then some. It had just about everything you wanted in a championship match from key saves, nifty passing and goals. Ah yes -- goals -- beautiful goals.

The marvelous and entertaining match pitted the best club teams in the world. Barca walked proudly out of Wembley as deserved winners and champions, although United stayed close until the Spanish side put it into another gear in the second half en route to a 3-1 triumph.

This Barcelona team is a very special side, one of the great ones of all time, having won the title for the third time in six tries (2006, 2009).

The best defense against Barca is not to give them the ball, which United did for the opening 10 minutes.

But with Lionel Messi and Barca and co., there is no humanly way possible for a team, even a talented side such as United to do that for 90 minutes, let alone a half. Once the Spanish club got the ball back, Barcelona did what it is best known for -- moving forward with the ball and constantly attacking.

While the great Messi was not involved in the opening goal, it certainly was a thing of beauty, bringing the Barca supporters in the stadium to their feet to cheer for minutes. Xavi, who has been forced to play in Messi's shadow, set up Pedro with a perfect pass. Pedro had a step on his man before scoring from the right side in the 27th minute.

But give United credit. Instead of wilting, the English Premier League champions came storming back only seven minutes later on a Wayne Rooney goal from the middle of the penalty area as United took advantage of a Barca mental lapse.

Messi, the best soccer player in the known universe, performed his magic in the 54th minute on a rather unMessi-like goal. Fans are accustomed to seeing the Argentine superstar using his shifty side-to-side moves to try to get around his man while penetrating into the penalty area.

This time, he fooled everyone with an impressive finish from distance -- outside the penalty area. He found a little room and put all of his weight and power to unleash a rocket of a shot that goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, playing in the last game of his career, could not keep out of the net. And oh yes, it was Messi's 53rd goal of the season.

David Villa, Spain's scoring hero in last year's World Cup, put an exclamation point on the triumph with a superb curling effort into the upper right corner for a 3-1 advantage in the 69th minute.

If there was a disappointment, it was the attacking absence of Mexico's standout striker, Javier Hernandez.

Of course, United did not have the ball enough, although Chicharito only needs one opening, even a slight one at that, to score.

On this Saturday, however, Hernandez's timing was off as he was offside at least three times.

He had one potential scoring thrust in the 10th minute, when he latched onto a nice Ryan Giggs feed, splitting a pair of Barca defenders, but they recovered in time to make sure the Mexican international could do anything dangerous with it.

Whether he would have gotten the ball enough to connect to equalize, it was highly questionable with the way Barcelona played to honor the beautiful game with a majestic game of its own.

In many ways, there were two winners at Wembley -- Barcelona, of course, and the game of soccer -- in a memorable final where Barcelona ruled the roost on this day.

Actually, if you want to get technical, Barca will rule Europe for the next year, unless there is a team on this planet that can take it away from them.

If there is a team with that kind of talent, expertise and experience, we haven't seen anything close to it yet.

Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for three decades, is a frequent contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at

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