A Barcelona side of rare skill, coherence, and imagination showed the better side of football last night when they beat Manchester United 3-1 to win the European Champions League at Wembley.
They took the lead in the 27th minute with a goal by Pedro, which was swiftly equalled by one from Wayne Rooney. But as the game went into its second period they gave a fluid demonstration of why they were such formidable favourites to win. Goals by Lionel Messi and David Villa asserted a superiority which made the English champions look laboured by comparison.
Barcelona's memorable victory was a reminder that the game on the field can still aspire to beauty, even if an uglier aspect of it – that of the off-field shenanigans by officials – will be paraded at the Fifa ethics committee meeting in Zurich tomorrow. Nor was last night's occasion, at least before it kicked off, entirely free from football's more exploitative instincts. The cheapest seats cost £176, prompting Manchester United fan Tom Mannion, 60, to say: "The ticket prices are scandalous; they should be three times less than they are." Paul Smith, another United fan, also took issue with the prices. Desperate for tickets, he rang Wembley to see if some were available, and was told he could sign up for Club Wembley membership, at £18,000, and would then have a ticket.