Barcelona wins 2011 Champions League final 3-1
Wayne Rooney of Manchester United (up) in action against Sergio Busquets of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England. / Getty Images
WEMBLEY, England Lionel Messi scored one goal and created another on Saturday to lead Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Manchester United and a third Champions League title in six years.
Barcelona dominated possession at Wembley with trademark one-touch passing but needed the Argentina striker to conjure a 54th-minute solo strike from the edge of the area to take the lead for the second time.
There seemed to be no space as Messi was tracked across the 18-meter (yard) line by fullback Patrice Evra, but the two-time world player of the year spotted a gap between the central defenders and hit a shot down the middle, beating goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar for pace.
Messi followed his 53rd goal of a remarkable season with a feint and run that eventually led to David Villa receiving possession on the edge of the area, from where the Spain striker curled a shot into the top corner.
With Pedro Rodriguez scoring Barcelona's opening goal midway through the first half from an imaginative through ball from stand-in captain Xavi Hernandez, the win was as comprehensive as its 2-0 victory over United in the final two years ago.
United improved upon its performance back then in Rome and did equalize in the 34th through Wayne Rooney, but could do little to disrupt Europe's dominant footballing force.
Commentators had said before the game that Barcelona, which had already won a third straight Spanish league title, would be ranked among football's truly great sides with victory over United.
Now, only Liverpool, AC Milan and Barcelona's fierce rival Real Madrid have won more European Cups than the Catalan club's four.
After a shaky opening, Barcelona simply outclassed the English champions.
Xavi, standing in for injured defender Carles Puyol as captain, orchestrated play from in front of Sergio Busquets, while Andres Iniesta and Messi tormented United with the pinpoint accuracy of their passing.
Barcelona: Victor Valdes, Dani Alves (Carles Puyol, 88), Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Eric Abidal, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez (Ibrahim Afellay, 90), Lionel Messi, David Villa (Seydou Keita, 86).
Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Fabio da Silva (Nani, 69), Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes, 77), Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez.
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