Barcelona celebrate doing it their way

LONDON - Barcelona's players were overjoyed to have shown off their dazzling brand of football to win the Champions League on Saturday with a performance that left even opponents Manchester United spellbound.

The Spanish champions threw coach Pep Guardiola in the air and cut out the net from one of the Wembley goals as they celebrated winning a fourth European Cup with a mesmerising display of their fantastic passing game in a 3-1 victory.

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"The people watching could see that we not only won but we played a brilliant match," Guardiola told Spanish television.

Defender Javier Mascherano agreed, telling Sky television: "We are happy because we played in the way we know to play."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson reckoned his side had been beaten by "the best team we have faced" and there could be no humiliation in losing.

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"From time to time you come up against a team far better than you and tonight was that night," Ferguson told ITV television. "They are at a tremendous peak in the cycle of their team. There are teams that elevate themselves to that status.

"Today we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there is no shame in that."

Hot favourites for the title from the start of the season, Barca were thrilled to have lived up to expectations and win a trophy Guardiola said required "a hell of a lot of effort".

"We knew the potential we had and we just had to make the most of it," forward David Villa, who scored an 18-metre curler for Barca's third goal, told Spanish television.

"It's been a great deal of work... to be happier right now would be impossible."

The trophy was lifted by full-back Eric Abidal, who was handed the honour by captain Carles Puyol after the Frenchman's recovery from surgery on a liver tumour in March.

"Three months ago, Abidal had a cancer and he suffered and (so did) his family," Guardiola told ITV.

"He recovered and I think we all showed, his team mates, to the club and to the rest of the world, the level of the human being that is this guy. As coach it is a privilege to train these guys."

BETTER SIDE

United, outplayed for so much of the game, could have no complaints but took some comfort from giving a better account of themselves than in their defeat by Barca in the 2009 final.

"I think we gave it a better shot than we did last time," centre-back Rio Ferdinand told Sky.

"Although the scoreline was 3-1 we did have quite a few opportunities... but it wasn't to be. You've certainly got to give credit to them, they were the better side on the night.

He added his team could have dealt better with a couple of the goals but that the "sucker punch" had been Lionel Messi's strike early in the second half that pulled Barcelona ahead.

"They are a great side, great players, they have a way of playing they all know. It was up to us to combat that and we didn't do that," he told ITV.

United captain Nemanja Vidic said his side had not dealt with Barca's devastating movement on the ball.

"We didn't do what we should have done, we shouldn't have given them time on the ball which they had," he said. "When they have time on the ball, the final pass is easy."

Mascherano rubbed salt in United's wounds by dedicating the win to fans of his former club Liverpool - United's arch rivals.

"After my exit they (Liverpool fans) were a little sad with me but this is for them as well," he said.


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