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Barça comeback denies Arsenal

Published: Thursday 18 May 2006, 0.59CET
FC Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal FC
Two goals in the final 15 minutes from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti wrested victory from Arsenal.
by Andrew Haslam
from Stade de France

Match statistics

BarcelonaArsenal

Goals scored2
 
1
Attempts on target9
 
5
Attempts off target9
 
3
Corners3
 
4
Offsides1
 
1
Fouls committed20
 
16
Yellow cards2
 
2
Red cards0
1

Standings

 
Published: Thursday 18 May 2006, 0.59CET

Barça comeback denies Arsenal

FC Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal FC
Two goals in the final 15 minutes from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti wrested victory from Arsenal.

The UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC promised to be an entertaining epic, but instead Paris witnessed a masterclass of a different kind. Ten-man Arsenal took a first-half lead against the odds and their fabled defence protected it for almost 40 minutes, only for Barça to get their reward for a patient display with two goals in the last 15 minutes, from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti, to give the Spanish side the trophy for the second time.

First dismissal
Both teams started in positive mood but the pattern changed completely in the 18th minute after Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann brought down Eto'o to become the first player to be sent off in a European Champion Clubs' Cup final. Incredibly Sol Campbell headed the English side in front in the 37th minute and Arsenal had a number of opportunities to extend their advantage but were unable to take them. Then their tired legs finally gave way in the concluding quarter of an hour. Barça substitute Henrik Larsson was the catalyst, creating goals for Eto'o and Belletti to turn the tie and take the title to Catalonia.

Henry threat
A banner unfurled at the Barcelona end before kick-off read "Más que un club" – more than a club – and the weight of expectation initially seemed to sit heavily on the shoulders of the on-pitch representatives of the Catalan giants, who might have fallen behind twice inside the opening five minutes. Emmanuel Eboué galloped down the Arsenal right in the third minute and his cross was allowed to travel as far as the dangerous Thierry Henry, who span away from his marker but Víctor Valdés rushed off his line to block the prodded shot with his legs. From the resulting corner the Barcelona goalkeeper was again forced into action by the Arsenal captain, palming away his effort from outside the area at the near post.

Lehmann dismissed
Having survived those early scares with their goal intact, Barça set about ending Arsenal's ten-game run without conceding, Ludovic Giuly stinging Lehmann's palms with an angled attempt before Ronaldinho curled a long-range free-kick past the post and Deco unleashed a rasping strike straight at the Arsenal keeper. His last contribution proved his most telling, however, as Ronaldinho split the Gunners' defence in the 18th minute with a pass that sent Eto'o in on goal, only for the Cameroonian to be felled on the edge of the area by Lehmann. The German was promptly red-carded, forcing Arsène Wenger to replace midfielder Robert Pirès with Lehmann's deputy Manuel Almunia, although Arsenal escaped further punishment when Ronaldinho bent the ensuing set-piece wide.

Campbell breakthrough
Unsurprisingly, the Blaugrana enjoyed the majority of the possession thereafter and pressed their opponents back although without seriously threatening their defence again. When a goal did arrive, it came unexpectedly at the other end as Eboué made more ground down the right and drew a foul from Carles Puyol. Henry swung the free-kick into the goalmouth and Campbell rose highest to power a header past Valdés. Falling behind seemed to jolt Barça into a more direct course of action and Ronaldinho and Eto'o might have combined to restore parity before the interval, the Brazilian rolling a pass into his strike partner who turned away from his marker only for his shot to be pushed on to the upright by Almunia.

Barça frustrated
Barça began the second period in similarly dominant mood and both Deco and half-time substitute Andrés Iniesta tested Almunia from distance but on each occasion the Spaniard was equal to the task. He needed Kolo Touré's assistance to clear a Ronaldinho cross from danger, although when the Brazilian scuffed an attempt wide when in space in the Arsenal area it appeared to encapsulate Catalan frustration. Their situation might have worsened twice in quick succession just past the hour, Aleksandr Hleb pulling an effort past the near post after a swift Arsenal counterattack before Valdés was required to touch over Fredrik Ljungberg's shot from the narrowest of angles.

Biting back
Arsenal squandered an even better opening moments later as Henry broke clear only to fire straight at the Barcelona custodian. Fourteen minutes from time the Londoners were made to pay for that profligacy as Larsson - on his farewell appearance before returning to his native Sweden - undid the Arsenal back line and Eto'o made no mistake, prodding past Almunia at the near post. The goal visibly lifted Barça and nine minutes from time they snatched a decisive second with Larsson again instrumental, playing a clever reverse ball for another substitute, Belletti, to drill in from an acute angle and send thousands of Catalan fans into raptures.

Last updated: 18/05/06 14.54CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2005/matches/round=2205/match=1108503/postmatch/report/index.html#barca+comeback+denies+arsenal

Lineups

barcelona

Barcelona

arsenal

Arsenal

1
Víctor ValdésVíctor Valdés (GK)
1
LehmannJens Lehmann (GK)
Red Card18
4
MárquezRafael Márquez
3
A. ColeAshley Cole
5
PuyolCarles Puyol (C)
7
PirèsRobert Pirès
Substitution18
8
GiulyLudovic Giuly
8
LjungbergFredrik Ljungberg
9
Eto'oSamuel Eto'o
Goal76
13
HlebAleksandr Hleb
Substitution85
10
RonaldinhoRonaldinho
14
HenryThierry Henry (C)
Yellow Card51
12
Van BronckhorstGiovanni van Bronckhorst
15
FàbregasCesc Fàbregas
Substitution74
15
EdmílsonEdmílson
Substitution46
19
Gilberto SilvaGilberto Silva
17
Van BommelMark van Bommel
Substitution61
23
CampbellSol Campbell
Goal37
20
DecoDeco
27
EbouéEmmanuel Eboué
Yellow Card22
23
OleguerOleguer
Yellow Card69
Substitution71
28
K. TouréKolo Touré

Substitutes

25
JorqueraAlbert Jorquera (GK)
24
AlmuniaManuel Almunia (GK)
Substitution18
2
BellettiJuliano Belletti
Substitution71
Goal81
9
ReyesJosé Antonio Reyes
Substitution85
3
Thiago MottaThiago Motta
10
BergkampDennis Bergkamp
6
Xavi HernándezXavi Hernández
16
FlaminiMathieu Flamini
Substitution74
7
LarssonHenrik Larsson
Substitution61
Yellow Card90+3
11
Van PersieRobin van Persie
16
SylvinhoSylvinho
20
SenderosPhilippe Senderos
24
IniestaAndrés Iniesta
Substitution46
22
ClichyGaël Clichy

Coach

Frank Rijkaard (NED) Arsène Wenger (FRA)

Referee

Terje Hauge (NOR)

Assistant referees

Steinar Holvik (NOR), Arild Sundet (NOR)

Fourth official

Tom Henning Øvrebø (NOR)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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