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FC Barcelona Make History With Second European Treble

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Luis Suarez and Neymar scored second-half goals to give Barcelona a 3-1 Champions League final victory over Juventus on Saturday as the Spaniards became the first team to twice win the European treble.

Luis Enrique capped his first season as Barcelona’s head coach by matching Pep Guardiola’s feat from the 2008/09 season when the Catalans captured the European, Spanish league and cup titles.

An early goal by Barca’s Ivan Rakitic was cancelled out by Juventus’ ex-Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who equalised on 55 minutes.

But Suarez put the game beyond the Italian champions with a 68th minute strike off a rebound at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Neymar added the third with the last kick of the game in the 97th minute.

That goal took the tally for Barca’s Latin American trio of Argentine Messi, Uruguayan Suarez and Brazilian Neymar, known in Spain as ‘MSN’, to a stunning 122 this term in all competitions.

It was also Xavi’s last game for the Catalan club while fellow midfielder Iniesta became the first Barca player to feature in four finals as he equalled Clarence Seedorf’s record of having played on the winning side four times.

Juventus suffered the indignation of becoming the first team to lose six European Cup finals, 30 years after winning the trophy for the first time amidst the tragedy of the Heysel Stadium disaster.

This was the fifth time Barcelona have been crowned European champions and it is their fourth Champions League title in the last decade after their 2006, 2009 and 2011 triumphs.

On the streets of Barcelona, where you could have heard a pin drop during the final, thousands of ecstatic fans dressed in their team colours of blue and red celebrated with cheers, chants and fire crackers.

Suarez Goal Champions League Final 2015

Luis Suarez celebrates his goal in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final.

 

– Suarez triumph –

For Suarez it was a triumphant end to a first season with the Spanish champions after his ignominious biting ban at the World Cup.

“It’s incredible, it’s something unique. To win these trophies you have to suffer,” he said.

“The best thing about this side is the spirit and the fact we’ve been united since the start of the season.”

In 2009 Barcelona joined the elite club of treble winners that include Celtic, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Now, they are the first to have done that twice.

Despite brief moments of magic, Lionel Messi failed to become the first player to score in three Champions League finals as he equalled Dutch star Clarence Seedorf’s tally of four winners’ medals.

Barcelona showed early nerves with two uncustomary mistakes in defence straight from kick-off before Rakitic gave the Catalan giants the lead with just four minutes gone.

Neymar fed his captain Andres Iniesta from the left wing and the Spain international squared for Rakitic to drill home from close range, past Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

Juve came back into the game midway through the first half, but Suarez forced Buffon, who failed to claim a winners’ medal at the 12th attempt, into another save as it finished 1-0 at the break.

The Spaniards picked up where they left off in the second half when Rakitic fed Suarez, who forced Buffon into a diving save with 48 minutes gone before firing over moments later.

Messi, who showed glimpses of his brilliance with a first-half darting run through the Juve defence, then fired wide after exchanging two quick passes in the build-up move.

Xavi and Iniesta

Xavi and Iniesta celebrate their fourth UEFA Champions League crown.

 

– ‘Brutal’ Xavi finale –

Juve got the equaliser they had threatened when defender Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross found Carlos Tevez, whose shot was parried by Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, only for Morata to rifle home the loose ball on 55 minutes.

It was the ex-Real striker’s first goal against Barcelona despite four years at the Bernabeu having left Madrid last year.

The goal breathed life back into Juve’s ambitions, but it was a touch of Messi magic which led to the decisive goal.

The Argentina international attacked the Juve defence with a mazy run and although Buffon blocked his shot, Suarez fired home the rebound on 68 minutes.

Neymar looked to have headed Barca’s third just moments later, but Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir spotted the ball hit his arm on its way into the Juve goal.

“Unfortunately when you play against great players, you think you have things under control, then they can turn the game, as happen tonight,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“We’re sorry to have missed our chance, but I can’t criticise the team.”

Xavi Hernandez came on for his final game in the Barca shirt in the dying stages as he made history with a record 151st Champions League appearance before joining Qatari side Al Sadd next season.

“To leave this way is brutal,” said the Spain international, who lost his place in the starting side to Ivan Rakitic this season.

The scene was set for Neymar to cap his first Champions League final with Barcelona’s third just before the final whistle.

Juventus were devastated after their fightback, but hailed the achievement of coach Allegri in getting the team to the final during his first season in charge, beating Real Madrid in the semis.

“You gave us a dream. Thanks, mister,” said Juventus’ official Twitter account.

© 2015 Reuters & Agence France-Press | This article was colated from source material which first appeared in Reuters & Agence France-Press on 7 June 2015.

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