On This Day in 2011: Lionel Messi stars as Barcelona win Champions League

By Sports Desk May 28, 2023

Lionel Messi produced a Wembley masterclass as Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 in the Champions League final on this day in 2011 to become European champions for a fourth time.

Pep Guardiola won his second Champions League as Barca head coach in three years after a dominant performance from his side.

They reached the final after defeating El Clasico rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate in the last four, with United sweeping aside Schalke 6-1 in their semi-final.

Guardiola’s side outplayed United in the first half, enjoying 68 per cent possession and having 22 shots, but were still level at half-time as Pedro’s opener was cancelled out by Wayne Rooney, who side-footed home from 15 yards after a one-two with Ryan Giggs.

Barca’s dominance continued after the break with Messi, who moments earlier had seen a shot cleared off the line by Patrice Evra, firing in a low shot from 25 yards.

Messi’s dribbling then caused panic in the United defence and David Villa capitalised to whip a shot into the top corner from just outside the penalty area and secure Barcelona’s third Champions League title in six years.

Eric Abidal, who had undergone surgery only two months earlier to remove a tumour in his liver, was given the honour of wearing the captain’s armband during the presentation ceremony and he was the first player to lift the trophy.

After the match Guardiola hailed Messi as “the best player I have ever seen”, while United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: “In my time as manager it is the best team we have faced.”

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