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27.05.2009 23:45

Messi crowned king of the Champions League

Jordi Clos

In a Champions League showdown billed as Lionel Messi against Cristiano Ronaldo to see who is the best player in the world it was the Portuguese international that began brightly, but the Argentinian that came out as a hero.

The Barcelona and Manchester United stars drew nearly all the attention during an intense build-up to the Champions League final in Rome as they have been cited as the best by FIFA and France Football magazine and neither disappointed, but just like in the Bernabéu against Real Madrid, Messi was able to move in field more, while Ronaldo also took up a central role as he did against Arsenal in the semi finals.

Imposing Ronaldo

ZUERAS_FC.BARCELONA_-_MANCHESTER_UNITED_FINAL_CHAMPIONS_27-05-09_040.JPGIn the opening minutes it was Ronaldo that shone as he saw a free-kick from 25 yards that saw Vítor Valdés parry the ball and have Gerard Piqué clear the rebound and again the United player took aim from 40 minutes soon after with a drive that was off target as he looked confident and ambitious. There was to be another effort in the eighth minute that flew past the far post too.

Eto'o opens the scoring

Manchester United's early promise and attacking intent had the brakes firmly put on it after ten minutes though when Barcelona netted the first goal of the game with their opening attack as Samuel Eto'o beat Edwin van der Sar. Practically of the Red Devils' attacks came through Ronaldo and in the end he was having to be stopped by any means properly as Gerard Piqué proved when being booked in the 16th minute.

Growing in confidence

WEB_02.jpgBarça grew in confidence and improved throughout in the Olympic Stadium and within the team Messi also looked better and better as he linked up well with the ever-impressive Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández to keep United chasing the game and chasing the ball. The Argentinian had his first chance of the game in the 19th minute when he looked up from outside the area and sent a drive that flew just over Van der Sar's crossbar. Before half-time he then embarked on a run towards the centre of the Manchester United defence before shooting.

The second goal

In the second half the game opened up even more and Messi had claims for a penalty waved away in the 50th minute. His statistics were also well on the way to being impressive as he completed 51 passes, with 84 per cent success rate, while Ronaldo managed 31 passes, with a 68 per cent success rate. In the 70th minute the two players were separated at last as Messi was picked out by a sublime cross from Xavi and he rose behind Ferdinand to send a stunning header beyond Van der Sar and into the far corner of the net. Ronaldo's game concluded as he received a card for a tackle on Puyol and left Messi being crowned as the king of the Champions League with nine goals.
Messi crowned king of the Champions League

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