diumenge, 20 de desembre de 2009
Catalan club Barcelona officially the best team of the world
The first clear-cut opening fell to the Argentine underdogs in the fifth minute. Juan Sebastian Veron, who was bringing out all his midfield mastery from years gone by, dinked a delightful ball into the path of Enzo Perez, with Victor Valdes coming quick off his line in order to snuff out the opportunity and Carlos Puyol eventually blasting the ball away to safety.
Barca had a golden opportunity to open the scoring through their star playmaker Xavi. Following good link-up play between Dani Alves and Zlatan Ibrahimovic down the Barca right, Xavi found himself in a one-on-one opportunity with Damian Albil in the Estudiantes goal.
However, rather than take on the shot, the Spanish midfielder attempted to play in Thierry Henry who was arriving late from an acute angle. It, inevitably, proved to be the wrong decision and the chance fizzled out to nothing.
Estudiantes fashioned a heart-in-the-mouth moment in the 27th minute for the Barcelona fans, as a corner delivered by Leandro Benitez was not properly dealt with, and Veron let fly from the edge of the penalty area with a shot that went agonisingly wide of Valdes' far post.
Ballon d'Or winner Messi had been quiet throughout the opening exchanges, and it was to be his team-mate Xavi who would again be involved in another major talking point for Barcelona just past the half-hour mark.
Ibrahimovic again turned provider, hoisting the ball into the Estudiantes penalty area which Xavi chased down, only to be clipped by the on-rushing Albil. The contact appeared slight, but Barcelona had a case for a penalty which was not awarded.
Three minutes later, the breakthrough for Estudiantes came out of nothing. Boselli beat Puyol and Eric Abidal in the air, to power home a pinpoint cross from the left by Enzo Perez and give Estudiantes a lead at half-time which, although their efforts merited, was still something of a surprise. Barcelona's players came out with Pep Guardiola's words still ringing in their ears and, consequently, began the second half with real purpose. Ibrahimovic came the closest with a sweetly-struck left-footed shot that flew just past Albil's far post. The talented Swede had spotted the gap, and was desperately unlucky in his failed attempt to execute.
However, as the time continued to pass, the frustration continued to mount for Barcelona. When they finally managed to fashion some space to allow for the creative talents of Messi and Xavi, Dan Alves failed to finish off the move. The ball eluding the Brazilian full-back, just after the hour mark, when any sort of meaningful contact would have given Barcelona an equaliser.
The sense of impatience from the Barcelona bench was becoming tangible. Guardiola had sent on Pedro for the disappointing Seydou Keita at the start of the second-half, and he was prepared to freshen up his attacking options once more as Jeffren took the place of Henry down the left-flank.
Immediately, Barcelona looked a different proposition and the South Americans were powerless to prevent a Barcelona equaliser coming with just one minute of normal time remaining.
Xavi chipped the ball into the box, and Gerard Pique managed to get his head to it. The tall centre-back directed the ball into the path of Pedro who calmly lobbed Albil from just a few yards out.
The Catalans started the first-half of extra-time positively and Messi, who had hardly sparked this final alight, smashed the ball wide when played in by Ibrahimovic.
But he was to make amends ten minutes before the end of extra time, when he chested in Alves' deep cross after ghosting in between Diaz and Cellay with Albil flapping at thin air.Barcelona had finally taken the lead 110 minutes into the match, and for all Estudiantes' efforts in fashioning an equaliser - including a glancing header from Boselli which just went the wrong side of the post following a delightful Veron delivery - they were unable to do so.
Thanks to Eurosport