BERLIN (AP) — Never one to avoid controversy, Luis Suarez came through for Barcelona just when it needed him most.
After missing several chances, the Uruguayan striker scored the goal that broke the back of Juventus in the Champions League final, then drove Juventus fans to distraction, feigning injury as Barcelona fought to prevent another Juventus rally.
Suarez’s 68th minute goal gave Barcelona the lead after Juventus had come back to level Saturday’s final at Berlin’s Olympic stadium. At 1-1, Juventus was playing with coinfidence and aggression until the goal that took Barca to 2-1, a lead it never looked likely to surrender.
Barcelona took a risk on the controversial player by signing him away from Liverpool and Suarez has proven worth it by scoring 25 goals this season despite competing for goals with world beaters Lionel Messi and Neymar. Barcelona completed a treble on Saturday by also sweeping the two domestic titles for the second time in the club’s history.
“You can’t ask for more. These three titles, and finish it by winning the Champions League,” Suarez said. “The truth is that I don’t have words to express the happiness or the grandeur of this team this season. This has been one of a kind.”
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon palmed away a shot by Lionel Messi but Suarez was there to tap the ball home. Suarez then jumped over the advertising boards behind the goal, another fence and ran toward Barcelona fans, followed by his teammates.
“Both teams had their chances,” he said. “Another goal in the first half would have given us more control, but you can’t ask for anything more.
“We won’t see this (treble) happen again very often. All my words fall short,” Suarez said.
The celebration in front of their fans took a good four minutes, if not more.
The decisive goal may help Suarez put behind his past biting incidents. Suarez had a late start to the season because of a four-month ban for biting Italy and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. He is still suspended for the Copa America this year. Chiellini was injured on Saturday, but another old enemy, Patrice Evra, was playing for the Italian team. Suarez was banned for racially abusing Evra when the two played in England in 2011.
Suarez got the crucial goal, but also displayed a range of antics.
He feigned a serious injury, only to be back on the pitch immediately after limping off the field, wasting a couple of minutes as the clock ticked toward the end.
When he was substituted in injury time, Suarez walked slowly, shaking hands and hugging everyone along the way. Another minute or two off the clock. The game went seven minutes into stoppage time and Neymar scored Barcelona’s final with seconds remaining for the 3-1 final score.
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