Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Barcelona lift their fifth European Cup

GOALS GALORE:Barca’s South American trio of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi took their scoring tally to an amazing 122 in all competitions this season

Reuters, BERLIN

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, left, scores against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Barcelona were crowned kings of Europe for the fifth time after beating Juventus 3-1 in a pulsating UEFA Champions League final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday, capping their magnificent season with a title treble.

The Spanish side lived up to their tag as favorites and added the European Cup to their La Liga and Copa del Rey triumphs as coach Luis Enrique celebrated his first season in memorable fashion.

Goals from Croatian Ivan Rakitic in the fourth minute, Uruguayan Luis Suarez in the 68th and Brazilian Neymar with the last kick of the game sealed Barca’s second treble, matching their 2008-2009 feat.

“It’s incredible, a dream, something unique,” Suarez told reporters. “To win these competitions you have to suffer, if not it’s not worth it, and today we had to suffer to win the match.”

Barca’s South American trio of Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi, known collectively as “MSN,” showed spectacular form all season and Saturday’s goals took their tally to an amazing 122 in all competitions as the game proved the perfect antidote for the corruption scandal engulfing soccer’s world governing body FIFA.

Juve, though, became the first team in the history of the competition to get beaten in six finals and the Italian giants have now lost their past four.

“I would like to thank the team for the wonderful season they have had,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, who landed the domestic double in his first season in charge. “We played a great game tonight... unfortunately, when you play against great players you think you have things under control, but then they get you.”

Barcelona shrugged off a nervous start by scoring a sublime fourth-minute goal.

All 10 outfield players touched the ball in a 16-pass move that ended when Neymar fed Andres Iniesta and he picked out Rakitic to slot the fourth-fastest goal in a European Cup final.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who won the World Cup with Italy at the Olympiastadion in 2006, but is still waiting to capture his first European crown, denied Barca a second goal in the 13th minute with a superb one-handed save, keeping out a Dani Alves shot.

Alvaro Morata twice went close for the Italian side, but Barca’s pressure in the first half was relentless and Suarez twice almost netted.

The 37-year-old Buffon again came to the rescue three minutes after the restart and then Juve struck against the run of play, with former Real Madrid striker Morata tapping the ball in after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had saved from Carlos Tevez.

The Italians looked to be taking control of the game, but their joy was short-lived. Argentine Messi took matters into his own hands, charging past three defenders and unleashing a low drive that Buffon could only parry to Suarez.

It was the most crucial goal of the 28-year-old Uruguayan’s career and it came a year after he was branded a villain for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, who missed Saturday’s final through injury, at the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.

Neymar had a goal disallowed after his header bounced off his own hand to deceive the diving Buffon, much to the forward’s frustration.

Juve, who had an average age of 30 and were the second-oldest team to play in a Champions League final, fought bravely, but ran out of steam.

Brazilian Neymar netted deep into stoppage-time to provide a fitting farewell for midfielder Xavi, who is leaving Barcelona after collecting 25 trophies in more than two decades with the club he joined at the age of 11.

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