70,000 supporters packed into the Stade de France for an epic European Cup Final in which nerves were jittering right from the first whistle as Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti scored two goals in six minutes Wednesday to help FC Barcelona beat 10-man Arsenal 2-1 to win the Champions League.
Eto'o equalized for Barcelona in the 76th minute, and Belletti scored the winner in the 81st to give Barcelona its second European Cup title. The Spanish champions also won the trophy in 1992.
Arsenal was quickest out the blocks and Thierry Henry's sublime touch allowed him to grapple clear of Rafael Marquez before being thwarted by Barca's keeper Victor Valdes who pushed the ball past his right hand post.
A minute later Valdes had to be alert again to push away Henry's curling drive from the edge of the box after an incisive pass from Emmanuel Eboue. This however seemed to spring Barca to life with Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o showing why they have been one of the most feared partnerships in Europe this season.
Ronaldinho played Eto'o through who sped clear of Sol Campbell and his touch on the run took it beyond Jens Lehman. The German couldn't cope with the speed of the Cameroon international and brought him down just outside the box. The referee had no choice but to send Lehman off, who surely prevented a certain goal scoring opportunity. Ludovic Giuly put the ball into the empty net but the goal was disallowed since the referee had already blown up for a free kick.
Arsene Wenger was forced to reshuffle his pack, bringing substitute keeper Manuel Almunia on for the disappointed Robert Pires.
Eboue showed beautiful skill on right before being brought down on the edge of the box by Carlos Puyol. Henry curled in the subsequent free kick with precision and it was delightfully met with a powerful header from Campbell who rose majestically to crash it home.
On the stroke of half time, Henry broke away before being held up by Puyol and firing wastefully over the bar.
The second half kicked off with rain starting to fall in Paris, as Andres Iniesta, who replaced Edmilson after the interval, freed Mark van Bommel on the right but his cross flew harmlessly over the bar.
Iniesta then turned tidily before feeding Ronaldinho who was promptly upended by his fellow countrymen Gilberto Silva.
The Brazilian's free kick however didn't even manage to beat the wall.
Tempers stared to flare and Henry was booked after fouling Mark Van Bommel when he stretched for a ball that he miscontrolled. On 52 minutes Alumnia saved well again, this time down to his left from Iniesta.
Meanwhile, Henry was still causing havoc at the other end and forced a corner off Puyol.
After an hour Henrik Larsson was brought on for midfielder Van Bommel and was immediately involved, setting up Ronaldinho who made a complete hash of a half chance inside the box.
0n 66 minutes Ljunberg wriggled free of 2 Barca defenders but his shot was pushed out by Valdes for a corner.
Arsenal was playing classic counter attack football and Ljunberg raced clear again before being sythed down.
Henry then wasted a golden opportunity to double Arsenal's lead, shooting tamely at Valdes.
In the 76th minute Larsson flicked a pass to Eto'o who cleverly finished off a great move by beating Arsenal keeper at the near post.
Barcelona had its tails up and and Aniesta won a corner moments later off Kolo Toure.
Ten minutes from time, super-sub Larsson played the ball between Ashley Cole and Campbell to Juliano Balletti who fired the ball into the net through Almunia's legs.
Barca Coach Frank Rijkaard couldn't contain his joy and the Galacticos held on for a deserved victory.
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