Barca, European champions: Arsenal minus Jens Lehmann; Henrik Larsson shines

Henrik Larsson.jpg
Henrik Larsson, Barca midfielder
It was a match full of drama. Theater. Enthralling till the end. Barca pulled out as winners beating Arsenal 2-1
Arsenal reduced to 10 men after Jens Lehmann was sent off with his foul against Samuel Eto’o. But the hero was not Ronaldinho or Van Bommel, it was subsitute Henrik Larsson. The quiet Swedish midfielder showed that he still had the touch with his deft passes to Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Beletti that led to the goals late in the second half beating Arsenal, after Sol Campbell’s header had given Arsenal the lead in the firs half.
Thierry Henry distinguished himself by proving to be a thorn in the initial forays into the Barcelona goal. He could have scored twice in the first three minutes. Some great goalkeeping from Victor Valdez prevented the damage.
Jens Lehmann was sent off in the 18th minute for upending Samuel Eto’o after the striker rounded the keeper. Manuel Almunia came in place of Lehmann to keep goal and Robert Pires was sacrificed. But against the run of play, Arsenal scored from Thierry Henry’s free kick through Sol Campbell powering a header past the Barca goalkeeper. The free kick was gratis compliments of Norwegian referee Terje Hauge after being fooled by Emmanuel Eboue’s theatrical tumble from Carlos Puyol’s challenge.
But the subsitution of Van Bommel in the 61st minute by Barca coach Frank Rijkaard proved to be serendipitious. In came Henrik Larsson and in the next half an hour provided the touch needed for the equalizer and then the winner.
If Larssen’s play is any indication then Sweden will will not be easy to beat in this World Cup. It was also Larsson’s last match for Barca before he heads to hometown club Helsingborg. So he bowed out in style giving the Catalans and their club a final to remember.

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