|Barcelona's Andres Iniesta shows who finished on top, holding the European trophy aloft in Rome. (Darren Staples/Reuters)|
Barcelona is Europe's best
Manchester United totally dominated
ROME - Barcelona gave an emphatic answer to who is the best soccer team in Europe, dispatching Manchester United with a dazzling and dominating display to win the Champions League title for the second time in four seasons.
Samuel Eto'o scored 10 minutes in and Lionel Messi connected in the 70th, leading the Spanish champions to a one-sided 2-0 victory last night that prevented the English power from becoming the first team in 19 years to win consecutive European titles.
"This is the most important victory of my life," Messi said. "When the second goal came, that calmed us down a lot."
Eto'o took a pass from Andres Iniesta, cut around defender Nemanja Vidic and beat Edwin van der Sar from 8 yards. The goalkeeper got a touch on the right-footed shot but couldn't keep it from going in at the near post.
"The victory is much more important than the goal," said Eto'o, a three-time African player of the year from Cameroon.
Messi, a 21-year-old star of Argentina's national team, easily won the glamour duel with reigning FIFA player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi, who is 5 feet 7 inches, was wide open when he scored on a header from about 6 yards off a cross from Xavi Hernandez, who had hit a post with a free kick 17 minutes earlier.
It was Messi's tournament-high ninth goal and his first in 11 games against English opponents.
Messi set off colorful celebrations at one end of Stadio Olimpico, filled with 62,467 fans, and left English supporters in silence as Manchester United's European unbeaten streak ended at 25 games.
In Rome, Barcelona supporters splashed, fully clothed, in the Trevi Fountain. Before the match, a Manchester United fan was hospitalized after sustaining a stab wound and 15 people, including United and Barcelona fans, were arrested in separate incidents.
"Lionel Messi is the best player in the world, absolutely," Barca coach Pep Guardiola said of the Argentine who scored 38 of Barcelona's 153 goals this season.
"I think right now he is adding his name to the Golden Ball."
Ronaldo had United's only two on-target shots and six overall. Wayne Rooney managed just one shot.
"This is one of the biggest disappointments of my career," Ronaldo said. "The game was between Manchester and Barcelona. It wasn't a duel between anyone in particular."
Ronaldo said he didn't know whether he would remain with Manchester United, where he has three seasons left on his contract.
Real Madrid is thought to be interested in landing the 24-year-old.
Manchester United, which won its third straight Premier League title and added the English League Cup and Club World Cup, was trying to become the first team to win consecutive European crowns since AC Milan in 1989-90.
The Red Devils also won the tournament in 1968 and 1999.
In its first season under Guardiola, a former Barcelona star who began as a ball boy at Camp Nou, the Catalan power won Europe's top club competition for the third time following victories in 1992 and 2006.