Barcelona wins its fifth Champions League title
BERLIN — Barcelona’s mighty attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar won the Champions League on Saturday in Berlin with a 3-1 victory over Juventus that showed the beauty of fluent and attacking soccer 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.
Ultimately, 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 for Suarez and Neymar secured Barcelona’s fifth European Cup deep into stoppage time with the last kick of the game.
Messi, Suarez and Neymar complete the season with a combined 122 goals — and now European winners medals to join their league and cup ones.
Three years after then-coach 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.
“A magnificent, spectacular day,” Enrique said.
With a first Champions League triumph since 2011, Barca haswon 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. Allmy 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. He signed from Liverpool for $110 million despite being handed a four-month ban by FIFA for biting an opponent at the World Cup.
On Saturday, 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 derisively 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.
For Juventus, there was no third European title, just the un second welcome 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 kickoff, 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 crossfield pass in the goalward advance. It landed at the feet of 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.
Players celebrate Barca’s first Champions League title since 2011. LionelMessi, Neymar and Luis Suarez combined for 122 goals this year.