Barcelona beats Estudiantes for Club World Cup title

Lionel Messi scored an extra-time winner as Barcelona beat

Estudiantes 2-1 Saturday to win the Club World Cup, the European

champions’ sixth trophy of 2009.

Golden Ball winner Messi chested Daniel Alves’ cross into the

goal in the 110th minute to secure victory in front of 43,050 fans

at the Zayed Sports City stadium. Lionel Messi scored an extra-time

winner as Barcelona beat Estudiantes 2-1 Saturday to win the Club

World Cup, the European champions’ sixth trophy of 2009.

Golden Ball winner Messi chested Daniel Alves’ cross into the

goal in the 110th minute to secure victory in front of 43,050 fans

at the Zayed Sports City stadium.

Estudiantes had gone ahead in the 37th minute through Mauro

Boselli’s header before the Spanish champion’s late pressure paid

off as Pedro Rodriguez headed home an equalizer against the South

American champions in the 89th minute.

Barcelona’s bench erupted in celebration after the

come-from-behind victory, while Estudiantes players looked on in

disbelief or slumped to the ground.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola wept as his team prepared to

lift the trophy while counterpart Alejandro Sabella said Pedro’s

late equalizer stunned his team, which nearly equalized in the

dying moments through Leandro Desabato.

“We were so very near to achieving our dream,” Sabella said.

“What hurts most is that they tied it with only minutes to play.”

Midfielder Xavi Hernandez called it a “historic” night.

“It’s going to very dificult,” Xavi said about defending the

six titles. “When you look back in history you see there is only us

who have done it (won six trophies in one year).”

The Copa Libertadores champions, looking for their first

global title since 1968 when it was known as the Intercontinental

Cup, kept Messi subdued until extra time, when the speedy Argentine

ran at the defense constantly before cutting across the area to

meet Alves’ perfect pass. It was Messi’s 16th goal this season.

Barcelona’s victory allowed it to add the one missing piece

of silverware to its already full trophy cabinet following final

defeats in 2006 and 1992. It had already won the Champions League,

Spanish league, Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercup and European

Supercup this year.

“When you go up against a team like Barcelona, a defeat is

always the most probable result,” Sabella said.

Barcelona scored a deserved equalizer after dominating the

second half, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pedro, who seized on

Gerard Pique’s flicked-on header in the area to lob the ball over

goalkeeper Damian Albil.

The two sides traded early chances before Boselli slipped

between defenders Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal to steer Juan Manuel

Diaz’s cross from the left into the net at the near post.

With Estudiantes able to keep Messi and Xavi Hernandez

subdued early and with Andres Iniesta missing due to injury,

Guardiola brought Pedro on for Seydou Keita to start the second

half as Estudiantes sat back to defend and an animated Guardiola

roamed the sidelines.

“It was very intense. We were losing and there was very

little time left,” Guardiola said though a translator. “At halftime

I told them they had to be strong, we were too soft until then. A

final like this deserved better fight.”

Both Ibrahimovic and Pedro came close to an equalizer on a

couple of occasions before finally making the breakthrough against

the tiring Argentines.

“We suffered a lot to that point. They contained us very well

for the first half,” Xavi said. “But then that great goal from

Pedro arrived and changed everything.”

Earlier, Asian champion Pohang Steelers of South Korea beat

Mexican club Atlante on penalties to finish third.

Estudiantes had gone ahead in the 37th minute through Mauro

Boselli’s header before the Spanish champion’s late pressure paid

off as Pedro Rodriguez headed home an equalizer against the South

American champions with a minute to play.