Slick Barca cruise past Juventus to win Champions League

Jun 6, 2015, 4:07 PM
Barcelona’s Luis Suarez jumps over Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the Champions ...
Barcelona's Luis Suarez jumps over Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the Champions League final soccer match between Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona at the Olympic stadium in Berlin Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

BERLIN (AP) — Barcelona’s mighty attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar won the Champions League on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Juventus that showed the beauty of fluent and attacking football after days of scandal that have tarnished the sport.

The Spanish champion dominated the game, but the Italian team played its part by fighting back from a goal down and seeking to match the complex spells woven by Barcelona’s talented players. But Juventus could not hang in there when Barca accelerated into an unmatchable rhythm.

Watched by more than 70,000 people in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, Juventus striker Alvaro Morata canceled out Ivan Rakitic’s early opener, Messi set up the vital second for Suarez, and Neymar secured Barcelona’s fifth European Cup deep into stoppage time with the last kick of the game.

The Messi-Suarez-Neymar axis complete the season with a combined 122 goals — and now European winners’ medals to join their league and cup ones.

Three years after Pep Guardiola left Barcelona and after last season ended without a trophy, Luis Enrique matched Guardiola’s 2008-09 feat of winning a treble in his first season in charge, suggesting the Catalan giants could be ready for a new period of European dominance.

“A magnificent, spectacular day,” Enrique said.

With a first Champions League triumph since 2011, Barca has won European soccer’s top trophy four times in the last decade.

Andres Iniesta has featured in each final and the midfielder is also celebrating his second treble. Iniesta played a deep defensive midfield role in Berlin as the strikers caused havoc in the panicky Juventus defense.

“We won’t see this happen again very often,” Iniesta said. “Six years later we did (the treble) again. All my words fall short. Let the people enjoy this Barca.”

Few will be enjoying the victory more than Suarez.

The Uruguay striker began the season in shame, signed from Liverpool for $110 million despite being handed a four-month ban by FIFA for biting an opponent at the World Cup. He powered in Barcelona’s second goal in the 68th minute after Messi’s shot was palmed away by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

“When you come to a team like Barca, you know that you have come to win,” Suarez said. “This is a dream.”

Suarez is rarely far from controversy, however. Twice he writhed around in agony, winning free-kicks and feigning serious injury. Juventus fans yelled derision when he recovered miraculously after wasting minutes.

Just like Suarez, Neymar has collected the top prize in club soccer for the first time after two years at Barcelona.

Neymar had a goal disallowed for handball but, with the final going into a seventh minute of stoppage time, the Brazil striker found space to score again as Juventus desperately sought a leveler, leaving its defense bare. This time it counted.

For Juventus there was no third European title, just the unwelcome record of being the first team to lose six finals. Still, the season ends with a domestic double

“While we’ve played a lot of finals, a lot of us had never played a Champions final,” Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio said. “There was a bit of fear.”

The Italian champion initially looked like it could cause an upset against the most dominant team in Europe in the modern era. Assertive from kick off, Juventus made Barcelona look anxious initially. It didn’t last long — just four minutes, in fact.

In a delightful move that involved all 10 outfield players touching the ball, starting with Jordi Alba’s throw in, Barcelona took the lead.

So often the provider of goals, Messi delivered a precise cross-field pass in the goalward advance. It landed at the feet of Jordi Alba, who played in Neymar and the ball was then slipped through to Iniesta.

With a flick, Iniesta squared for Rakitic to score from close range past Buffon.

Had it not been for Buffon’s stretching save at the start of the second half to deny Suarez, Juventus would have been two behind. Messi, for once, also couldn’t find the target after a one-two with Suarez.

It proved costly. A back-heel from Claudio Marchisio began the move that led to Juve’s equalizer.

An initial shot from Carlos Tevez was parried by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. But Morata, who scored in both legs of the semifinal against former club Real Madrid, sent the follow-up into the net with ease in the 55th minute.

Juve didn’t use the opportunity to swing the final in its favor, and Barca was back in front 13 minutes later after launching an electrifying counterattack.

Within five minutes of Suarez’s goal, Barca was celebrating again — but the joy was short-lived. Neymar was spotted to have headed the ball onto his hand before it went past Buffon.

But Neymar did have the final say in this final with the late, late goal.

It gave Xavi Hernandez the perfect send-off, departing for Qatar after spending his entire career at Barcelona with another medal.

“Nothing can beat finishing in this way,” the 35-year-old midfielder said.

Now the soccer world’s focus is likely to shift back to allegations of corruption, arrests and investigations that have pummeled the game’s reputation in the last 10 days.

___

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Penguin Air

Other

Associated Press

Royals rally on Murphy’s error, beat Mets, lead Series 3-1

The Kansas City Royals keep finding new ways to win this October. And now with one more victory in November, they will be World Series champions.
7 years ago
...
Associated Press

Shock beat Mercury in final regular-season game before move

Rookie Brianna Kiesel scored a career-best 28 points to help the Shock beat the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 Sunday in the team's final regular-season home game before the franchise moves to Dallas next year.
7 years ago
Follow @AZSports...
Arizona Sports

Fox Sports’ Mike Pereira wants high school football team suspended for vicious hit on official

If Fox Sports NFL rules anyalist Mike Pereira had his way, a high school football team in Texas would forfit its season for the conduct of two its players on a game official Friday.
7 years ago
Calais Campbell (93) is wrapped up by guard Mike Iupati after coming down with an interception duri...
Adam Green

Notes from the Nest: Arizona Cardinals training camp – Aug. 4

Tuesday's afternoon practice had a different feel to it because Carson Palmer did not participate.
7 years ago
Arizona Sports

Mardy Fish handed first-round loss to Dudi Sela in Atlanta

The first stop of Mardy Fish's farewell tour ended quickly with a 6-4, 6-4 first-round loss to Dudi Sela in the Atlanta Open on Tuesday night.
7 years ago
UEFA President Michel Platini watches the preliminary draw for the 2018 soccer World Cup in Konstan...
Arizona Sports

AP Sources: Michel Platini will run for FIFA president

Michel Platini will run for FIFA president and plans to announce his intentions this week.
7 years ago
Slick Barca cruise past Juventus to win Champions League