Champions League - Player ratings: Magic Messi

Sat, 28 May 22:58:00 2011

No prizes for guessing who tops our player ratings from Barcelona's Champions League triumph against Manchester United.

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BARCELONA

GK: Victor Valdes 7 - An uncertain start from the keeper who has once again won the Zamora award as La Liga's stingiest custodian. Was panicky in dealing with Rooney and Hernandez's early pressure, but soon began to play the ball around - his distribution is crucial to Barca's slick play. Booked.

RB: Daniel Alves 7 - The barnstorming Brazilian full-back was, as ever, a constant menace. He gave Patrice Evra, already having to deal with David Villa, plenty to think about. Forced a good save one-on-one with Edwin van der Sar. Booked.

CB: Javier Mascherano 7 - After an early examination in which United made the most of Puyol's absence with a series of high balls up to Hernandez, the wily Argentine got wise and dealt with the threat much better. Put in the sort of destructive performance all too familiar to United fans from his days as a Liverpool player.

CB: Gerard Pique 7 - The former United defender played a big role in getting the ball forward for Barca, bringing it out of defence and always managing to find either Xavi or Iniesta. Made his height count for plenty amongst his shorter team-mates.

LB: Eric Abidal 7 - The fact that the Frenchman was playing just nine weeks after having surgery on his liver to remove a tumour is amazing. Abidal looked fighting fit as he silenced Valencia, so often the key to United's successes.

DCM: Sergio Busquets 7 - Steered clear of controversy and stuck to his official brief of screening his defence and supporting is more stellar midfield colleagues. After Barca's top trio of passers - Xavi, Iniesta and Messi - Busquets made the most passes out of anyone else on the pitch. More than Giggs and Park combined, in fact.

ACM: Andres Iniesta 8 - The major supply line to Messi, Iniesta found the little Argentine 28 times in the 90 minutes, including the one which set up the second goal. Also had the highest pass completion rate too.

ACM: Xavi Hernandez 9 - It is a cliche to call Xavi Hernandez the 'pass master' of Barcelona and Spain, but like so many cliches it is born out of truth. The diminutive playmaker completed 124 passes, 18 more than the entire United midfield. The heartbeat of this great Barca side.

RF: David Villa 8 - Constantly running, always a threat, Villa certainly didn't look like a man who has been struggling for goals of late. Was given more than enough space to shoot for his goal, but he still had to bend a delightful finish out of Van der Sar's reach.

CF: Lionel Messi 9 - Man of the match - What is there left to say about Little Leo? His low curler for his 12th goal in 13 European games this season was a beauty. The jinking run which unsettled United's defence and led to Barca's third was mesmeric. The world's best player was the outstanding performer in the biggest club match imaginable. Who can possibly stop him winning a third straight Ballon d'Or next year?

LF: Pedro Rodriguez 8 - By far the least exalted of Barca's fearsome attacking triumvirate, but the 23-year-old has definitely grown out of his former diminutive nickname, 'Pedrito', in the past year. Kept his cool to fire Barca into a deserved first-half lead.

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MANCHESTER UNITED

GK: Edwin van der Sar 5 - A sad way for such a great goalkeeper to end his career. Made an impressive sprawling save to parry Xavi's inswinging effort, but you can't get a good mark when you ship three goals in any match. Still, if David de Gea does come to Old Trafford to replace him, the young Spaniard had better hit the ground running.

RB: Fabio da Silva 6 - Ferguson gave the Brazilian the nod over his twin brother by dint of his greater discipline, and Fabio largely did what was required of him, including a goal-line clearance from a Messi flick. He was flagging by that point midway through he second half, however, and was replaced by Nani moments before Villa scored the killer third.

CB: Nemanja Vidic 7 - A commanding aerial presence, as you would expect from the United skipper, and he marshalled the rear-guard action which ensured his team went into half-time on terms. Berated Evra after conceding the first goal, but must take some responsibility for not closing down the strikes which led to the second and third.

CB: Rio Ferdinand 7 - Like Vidic, Ferdinand was good for much of the match. Barca's forwards were just better. Made several crucial tackles and blocks when the game was still in the balance.

LB: Patrice Evra 5 - The Frenchman was culpable for Pedro's opener after he let the nippy forward out of his sight at the crucial moment. Was pressed back too often by Pedro and Dani Alves, and was therefore unable to get forward often enough to sufficiently support United's attackers.

LM: Ji-Sung Park 6 - For all the energy and dynamism that the Korean brings to the midfield, in this instance he came up short. All the pre-match talk about him being the key to shackling Messi turned out to be misguided and fanciful, as the Argentine happily proved on several occasions.

CM: Michael Carrick 6 - Did well to track back and assist in repelling Barca during their dominant spells of possession, but never had a chance of asserting any authority on the game. Often unfairly targeted by some as the weak link in United's midfield, he was certainly no worse than any of his colleagues here. Booked.

CM: Ryan Giggs 5 - After all the furore over his legal issues over the past week, who would have thought that Giggs would find anonymity in the most-watched match of the season? Deserves high praise for a fantastic campaign, but his ageing legs just could not compete in a midfield ruled by Barca's midfield schemers.

RM: Antonio Valencia 5 - The Ecuadorean winger has so often been the key man for United. Witness their upturn in form upon his return to the team following serious injury. But Abidal in the main and Barca in general managed to keep him quiet throughout, and he should have at least been booked on many occasions.

FW: Wayne Rooney 7 - The only real high-point of United's night was the performance of Rooney. It feels like so long ago that he looked finished, clogging ineffectually from game to game as his own fans berated him for requesting a transfer, only to win a bumper new contract. A classily-taken goal in a Champions League final shows just how far he has come.

FW: Javier Hernandez 5 - Rightly heralded as the buy of the season, this match felt like a step up too quickly for the sprightly Mexican. Caught offside almost as often as Xavi made a pass, Chicharito looked lost as he was asked to do so much work off the ball. However, his time at the very highest level will surely come.

Tony Mabert - Follow me on Twitter @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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