Barcelona win Champions League final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> With all the stars on the field, no one thought Juliano Belletti would be the one to make the difference in the Champions League final.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
  • Total Shares


With all the stars on the field, no one thought Juliano Belletti would be the one to make the difference in the Champions League final. Not even Belletti. But the Barcelona right back came on the field with 19 minutes to go on Wednesday and soon scored the deciding goal to give the Spanish champions a 2-1 win over 10-man Arsenal to win Europe's most prestigious club competition. Arsenal, which played with 10 men from the 18th minute after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was red-carded, took the lead in the 37th at Stade de France when Sol Campbell headed in the first goal. Samuel Eto'o equalized for Barcelona in the 76th minute, and Belletti scored the winning goal in the 81st. Henrik Larsson found Belletti on the run, and the Brazilian charged through the Arsenal defense and sent his angled shot off replacement goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and into the net for his first goal in a European competition. ''Scoring a goal in the Champions League is very difficult for a full back,'' Belletti said. ''I thought this afternoon that perhaps I would have played, but I knew it was difficult. The Champions League is for all the people who don't appear in the press. It's for everyone.'' Arsenal, which was playing in its first Champions League final, lost Lehmann when he brought down Eto'o just outside the Arsenal area. Still, Arsenal took a 1-0 halftime lead after Campbell headed in Thierry Henry's free kick. Henry squandered a chance to add a second goal, shooting straight at Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the second half. It was a disappointing homecoming for Henry, whose team had gone a Champions League record 10 games without conceding a goal. And the France striker was furious with Norwegian referee Terje Hauge. ''I don't know if the ref had a Barcelona shirt on or something,'' Henry said. ''If they don't want us to win it, just say it right form the start. ''No disrespect to Barcelona, I feel we played better than them when it was 11 against 11,'' Henry said. ''We can be proud, we can be more than proud, but I'm sorry, some of the refereeing today was horrendous.'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, trying to become the first French coach to win the famous trophy, also criticized the referee. ''I'm very angry. I'm frustrated at losing the match but I'm angry at conceding an offside goal,'' Wenger said of Eto'o's equalizer. ''It's difficult to accept losing the game on a poor decision. ''That goal was offside and it was proven on television. At this level, we should not accept this and we have to do something about it.'' Henry was denied two goals in the first three minutes by Valdes before Barcelona thought it had taken the lead in the 18th. Ronaldinho fed Eto'o, but Lehmann brought the Cameroon striker down on the edge of the area. The ball rolled to Ludovic Giuly, who shot it into an empty net, but Hauge had already blown his whistle for a foul. The referee sent Lehmann off and reserve goalkeeper Almunia then replaced midfielder Robert Pires. Eto'o nearly equalized in first-half injury time, but Almunia pushed his shot off the post. The Spanish team finally leveled 14 minutes from the end when Larsson touched a through ball to Eto'o, who shot between Almunia and the near post. Barcelona's comeback means that Frank Rijkaard, who won the title with AC Milan and Ajax as a player, became the fifth Dutchman to lift the trophy as a coach. ''It wasn't easy and it didn't surprise me. Playing in the Champions League final is always special and unique,'' said Rijkaard, who joins Rinus Michels (Ajax 1971), Guus Hiddink (PSV Eindhoven 1988), Johann Cruyff (Barcelona 1992) and Louis van Gaal (Ajax 1995). (AP)