FC Barcelona absorbed Manchester United's two best punches -- an early flurry of activity for about eight or nine minutes to open the match and Wayne Rooney's goal in the 34th minute -- and stayed poised an in control of the balance of the match to capture the UEFA Champions League trophy in impressive and dominating fashion.
It was simply amazing yet hardly surprising how easy Barca made winning look. And Lionel Messi looked every bit like the World Player of the Year that he is.
The best teams in all sports have stars and great supporting casts, maybe even a second or third star. Messi had that in David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez on Saturday at Wembley.
Pedro's shot that went wide in the 16th minute was only an indication that he was going to be a factor in Barcelona's sharp yet free-flowing attack. Manchester United did well in defending Messi early on, but that strategy left space for VIlla and Pedro to get shots.
After Villa's shot in the 21st minute was saved, Messi's magic feet and quickness began to take their toll on the Red Devils' defense. Messi got into the box in the 22nd minute with the ball, only to be tackled by Nemanja Vidic, who saved a goal with the play. Moments later, MU's Rio Ferdinand cleared away another Messi run into the box.
The constant buildup meant it was only a matter of time until Barcelona would score, and it happened in the 2th minute. Pedro got a great through ball from Xavi and slotted the ball in for the game's first goal.
Rooney's goal, an impressive strike, seemed to only ignite FCB's attack. Defender Antonio Valencia bullied Messi with physical play whenever he had the chance, but Messi overcame it. At halftime, FCB was dominating the match not because it was a far better team than Manchester United, but because it was faster and more effective with its possession.
In the 54th minute, Messi scored from top of the arc with a power shot over a Man. U. defense that gave him a bit too much room. The goal just happened out of thin air, it seemed. Messi showed how he can turn what looks like a routine pass to the other side of the field into a sudden goal.
In the 69th minute it was Villa's turn. Messi made a run, passed to Pedro, who tapped the ball to Villa for a shot into the right corner of the net. Teams can only dream about such precision. For Barcelona, it seemed routine.
In the end, Manchester United hardly belonged on the same pitch as Barcelona and the match resembled more an earlier-round affair the way Barcelona exerted its will. Like that Buccaneers-Raiders Super Bowl a few years back in which Tampa Bay grabbed control of the game and ran away with it.