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May, 29, 2011

Messi proud of 'better team' Barca

Lionel Messi played down his contribution to Barcelona's Champions League final victory on Saturday, claiming his man-of-the-match performance was almost irrelevant as he and his team-mates proved they "were the better team".

• Brewin: Barca machine purrs
• Fergie: Barca the best
• Guardiola delighted
• Vidic: Barca deserved it
• Jolly: The long hard goodbye
• Champions League Gallery Photo Gallery

Messi grabbed his side's second goal - and a record-equalling 12th of the competition - to put them on course for an eventual 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley.

Pedro and David Villa got Barcelona's other goals, with Wayne Rooney's first-half equaliser for United eventually nothing more than a consolation.

Messi was subsequently named man-of-the-match for his overall display, but the 23-year-old insisted that it was a triumph built on collective spirit rather than individual skill - and that ultimately the right team won.

"To be the man-of-the-match is the least important thing, because it was incredible how we played. We were very good in all areas," Messi said. "We're very happy to lift another trophy.

"It was a difficult season but we showed who we are. We were the better team."

Nevertheless, Messi's team-mates paid tribute to the Argentine, with Xavi saying: "He is the number one, he makes the difference - he is just the best player in the world."

The lifting of the trophy saw a poignant moment, as club captain Carles Puyol deferred the armband to Eric Abidal, who only two months earlier had suffered a severe health scare that resulted in a tumour being removed from his liver.

"Even before all of this, we said our biggest victory, our most important trophy, was the recovery of Abi," Dani Alves noted. "We put on a spectacle for everyone who is passionate about football and who loves football.

"And I think that people who really like football will be very happy today because they have seen a great match."

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