Triumphant Barca arrive home for parade

BARCELONA - Barcelona's triumphant players paraded the club's fourth European Cup through the warm streets of a festive Catalan capital on Sunday before partying with almost 100,000 fans at their Nou Camp stadium.

Saturday's 3-1 victory over Manchester United, a second Champions League triumph in three years and a fourth continental crown following successes in 1992 and 2006, capped a superb season in which the Spanish giants claimed a third successive Spanish league title and reached the King's Cup final.

They flew back from London on Sunday afternoon on a plane decorated in the club colours with huge pictures of the players adorning the side and touched down at the city's El Prat airport at around 4pm local time.

Boarding an open-top bus, Barcelona wound their way through the thronged streets with the European Cup and La Liga trophies displayed at the front of the vehicle.

Confetti wafted through the evening air and fans sought every vantage point to catch a glimpse of their heroes, including Saturday's goalscorers Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro.

Supporters clad in the club colours of claret and blue began pouring into the sun-kissed stadium from around 5:30pm and when the players arrived two and a half hours later there were thousands more to welcome them in the streets outside.

With fireworks going off and rock music blaring inside the arena, the players and the coaching staff were announced one by one before coach Pep Guardiola and his assistant Tito Vilanova brought the Champions League trophy on to the pitch.

After short speeches by captain Carles Puyol and Guardiola, Messi stepped up to address the stadium.

"I don't have much to say other than to thank you all for your support during this amazing year," the Argentine World Player of the Year said.

"Hopefully, there will be many more to come. Long live Barca and long live Catalunya!"

The players are due to attend a concert given by Colombian pop diva Shakira, the girlfriend of centre-back Gerard Pique, across the city at the Olympic Stadium later on Sunday.