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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 17, 2006

Van Bronkhorst delighted to triumph over old-boys

Barcelona's former Arsenal defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst was delighted to have been on the winning side as the Catalan side came back from behind to triumph in Paris.

He told Sky Sports: 'You don't get many chances to win the Champions League and we fought hard to win this.

'We were lucky Thierry (Henry) didn't score their second and then we scored twice late on so it was perfect.

'We had some good moments and some bad moments and it was a really open final.'

Van Bronckhorst was non-committal over the incident which saw Lehmann red-carded, adding: 'They were lucky the goal didn't count but they had the man sent off.'

Team-mate Samuel Eto'o insisted his Barcelona side emulated the example of Liverpool to beat 10-men Arsenal 2-1 and lift the Champions League trophy in a compelling final at the Stade de France.

Eto'o equalised for the Spaniards late in the second half and substitute Juliano Belletti scored the winner after Sol Campbell had given the Gunners the lead with a first-half header.

The Barcelona striker had also been at the centre of the the game's most controversial incident when Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off for upending him when he looked certain to score.

Eto'o said: 'We remembered the spirit of Liverpool. We saw what Liverpool did last year when they were three down. You can't doubt yourselves in a final.

'And after half-time we knew we had to come out and fight and, God willing, you can win.'

Eto'o was named man of the match for a vibrant striking display which also saw him bring a fabulous save from Arsenal reserve goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who palmed his shot on to a post.

He also believed referee Terje Hauge should have allowed Ludovic Giuly's 'goal' to stand when he slid the ball into the net after Lehmann had committed his red-card foul.

Eto'o added: 'When you are on the pitch I would have preferred the goal but the referee had a different view and that's part of the game. The ref did what he had to do and that's it. We thought he would allow the play to go on but we accepted it.

'He could have given the advantage but we won and it was a good night for all the players of Barcelona.'

At the end Eto'o spent several minutes in conversation with Arsenal's Thierry Henry, who could yet be one of his team-mates at the Nou Camp next season.

Eto'o was coy about what was discussed, however, adding: 'This was our private little thing. I will call him on the phone later. We are friends. Unfortunately one of us had to lose and it was him. If it had been the other way round I'd have been sad for my side but happy for him.

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard saluted goalkeeper Victor Valdes for keeping his side in the game.

Valdes saved twice from Thierry Henry in the first three minutes and Rijkaard said: 'Valdes played a decisive role. He saved us at crucial moments but to win a game like this every part of the team has to do his job. Eto'o also did a great job tonight.'

Rijkaard added: 'We knew it would be a difficult game against Arsenal. It happens a lot that when one player is sent off it is even harder to break through.

'They had even more spirit with 10 men. It gave them an even tougher mentality.

'It was an attractive game, though. Arsenal started really well and we grew into the game. The sending-off changed the game dramatically. It was a pity for the game but you have to live with that.

'Even with 10 men Arsenal were dangerous on the counter-attack. They were very organised and we had to wait and wait for the equaliser and that takes strength from the players.

'But we have won the 2006 Champions League and that's the most important thing. That and the joy it has given our fans.'

Barca captain Carles Puyol added: 'We are all extremely delighted. It had not been an easy game, I think the sending off of Lehmann changed the game completely.

'It was very difficult to mark Henry, he showed what an extraordinary player he is. This was the most important moment of my career.'

Ronaldinho added: 'I am especially happy for Belletti. I know how much this means to him. It's an enormous joy for me but also for this club after so many years.

'We never lost hope, we always had confidence in ourselves that we could turn the game around. We had the play, it was just a question of finding the finishing.'

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