El Haddadi magic secures title for Barcelona
Monday, 14 April 2014
SL Benfica 0-3 FC Barcelona
A spectacular effort from the halfway line by Munir El Haddadi helped Barça win first UEFA Youth League. Watch highlights now.
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FC Barcelona won the inaugural UEFA Youth League after a stunning goal from the halfway line by Munir El Haddadi capped a superb all-round performance against SL Benfica.
Rodrigo Tarín gave Barcelona a ninth-minute lead and when Romário Baldé hit Benfica's fourth penalty of the finals weekend against the bar just five minutes later, Jordi Vinyals' side assumed a quiet control. They also doubled their lead before the break when El Haddadi scored his tenth goal in as many games. After Barcelona had seen off a degree of second-half pressure, El Haddadi struck again to seal success in the most spectacular of fashions.
On Friday, it was Benfica who flew out of out the blocks and although they started confidently, it was Barcelona who got a big early boost. El Haddadi has been in prolific form all season but showed another side to his game as he outmuscled Nuno Santos on the touch line, burst into the box and hit a fierce low shot that Thierry Graça did well to keep out. Unfortunately for the Benfica goalkeeper, the rebound fell at Tarín's feet and the centre-back swept in.
Undaunted – as might be expected of a team who were yet to lose a UEFA Youth League game this season – Benfica hit back and playmaker Rochinha was sent tumbling in the box by Elohor Godswill. Starting in place of semi-final goalscorer Hildeberto Pereira, Romário Baldé stepped up but smashed his spot kick against the bar.
Benfica still seemed unflustered, but Barcelona always carried a threat and just past the half hour, they doubled their lead. Adama Traoré embarked on a strong run down the right and when he was finally held up deep in the opposition area, he squared for El Haddadi. The competition's leading scorer found the far corner with the same unerring ease that he struck Friday's winner against FC Schalke 04.
The catalyst behind Benfica's own semi-final success, Nuno Santos looked his side's best route back into the contest and he let fly a couple of times from distance. Ten minutes into the second half, the Eagles' Gilson Costa hit the woodwork, albeit from an offside position, and straight away Estrela headed a great chance just the wrong side of the post.
Captain João Nunes headed agonisingly wide from a corner and Gonçalo Guedes went close as Benfica gave it everything, but El Haddadi had the final word, hitting an exquisite 88th-minute effort to confirm it would be Barcelona as the first name on the Lennart Johansson trophy.