By Mike Collett
ROME, May 27 (Reuters) – Barcelona deposed Manchester United as European champions with an outstanding 2-0 victory in the Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
Striker Samuel Etoâ€™o struck the opener after 10 minutes when he cut in from the right past Nemanja Vidic with surprising ease and his low shot beat United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at his near post. Xavi cracked a free kick against a United post at the start of the second half before Lionel Messi sealed the win after 70 minutes when he scored with a beautifully timed header from Xaviâ€™s cross.
The win was Barcelonaâ€™s third in Europeâ€™s premier club competition following their earlier successes in 1992 and 2006 and completed a treble after their successes in La Liga and the Kingâ€™s Cup.
â€œIâ€™ve been waiting so long to get this title and finally today,â€ Barca striker Thierry Henry told ITV. â€œThe last five minutes were the longest of my life. You never know what can happenâ€”we were playing against best team in the world.
â€œItâ€™s amazing. All year we played the same way, we wanted to play football. I donâ€™t think we started well. We had to play better, then we passed the ball the way we can.
â€œItâ€™s my daughterâ€™s birthday today so itâ€™s a double celebration.â€
United, who were attempting to become the first club in the Champions League era to retain the European Cup, dominated the opening 10 minutes of the game but never looked like winning it once Barcelona had taken the lead.
United settled first with Cristiano Ronaldo having three attempts at goalâ€”the best being a second-minute free kick which Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes failed to hold.
The ball bounced out of his grip but Park Ji-sung could not get to it in time and Barca skipper Carles Puyol cleared for a corner.
Thierry Henry, Messi and Etoâ€™o all went close to scoring for Barcelona in the second half but those two goals were enough to give coach Pep Guardiola the European Cup in his first season in charge.
Victory for Barca also ended Unitedâ€™s record 25-match unbeaten run in the competition and give them their first ever defeat in a European final.
(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Kevin Fylan; To comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)