- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

BERLIN (AP) - The Latest from the Champions League final:

___

11:23 p.m.

As well as fine memories and a shiny winner’s medal, Gerard Pique has a unique souvenir from Barcelona’s Champions League victory: the net from Juventus ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon’s goal.

While his teammates celebrated with the trophy, the defender cut down the net with a pair of scissors.

___

11:04 p.m.

Unforgettable scenes at the Champions League final, with Xavi Hernandez lifting the big-eared trophy in his last game for Barcelona, the now five-time champion of Europe thanks to its 3-1 victory against Juventus.

Wearing a white headband written “100 percent Jesus,” Neymar was down on his knees after the final whistle. The Brazilian scored with the last kick of the game. He kissed the trophy before UEFA President Michel Platini handed it to Xavi to hold aloft.

Andrea Pirlo was in tears. If this was his last match for Juventus, the 36-year-old went out in style, albeit with a defeat.

But he got a hug from Xavi, another giant of the game who made his 151st Champions League appearance, a record, coming on as a second-half substitute.

Xavi kept the match ball, stuffing it under his jersey.

Nice touch from the Barcelona players: They lined up to applaud the Juventus team as they went up to collect their medals from Platini, a possible successor to Sepp Blatter when the FIFA president makes good on his pledge to stand down.

___

10:47 p.m.

That’s it. Barcelona is the new champion of Europe. Given the intensity and quality of its play in the Champions League final against a valiant Juventus side, rightly so, too.

Goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and a last-minute strike from Neymar gave the champions of Spain their fourth European title in the past decade and fifth overall.

Alvaro Morata got Juventus’ goal in the 55th minute, setting up an enthralling second half.

In the Barcelona goal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a late effort from Claudio Marchisio, pushing the ball wide of his post.

Huge celebrations down on the pitch, with Barcelona players huddled in a mass of delight.

The best possible send-off for Xavi Hernandez, who played his 151st Champions League match, and last, for Barcelona, coming on in the second half for Andres Iniesta.

___

10:21 p.m.

Try, try and try again could be Luis Suarez’s motto.

After a flurry of goal attempts, the striker scores to put Barcelona ahead 2-1 in the 68th minute of the Champions League final.

Lionel Messi did the damage, carving through the Juventus ranks with one of his trademark runs before getting away a shot that Gianluigi Buffon could only palm away.

Suarez scored on the rebound. That is the 121st goal this season for a member of Barcelona’s attacking trio of Suarez, Messi and Neymar.

Neymar thought he had made it 3-1 moments later. But the assistant referee rightly spotted that the Brazilian’s header came off his hand before going past Buffon.

___

GOAL! Juventus 1 Barcelona 2 (Luis Suarez 68)

___

10:11 p.m.

Juventus is back in it, and still fighting for its first Champions League title since 1996.

Alvaro Morata got the goal that levels the score in the final at 1-1 in the second half, after a torrid spell when Barcelona threatened to double its lead.

Right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner created the opening with a surging run and a pass that found Carlos Tevez in the box. The Juventus striker got a solid shot away that Marc-Andre ter Stegen stopped but couldn’t collect.

Morata, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid last season, scored off the rebound.

In the stadium where he won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, Gianluigi Buffon kept Juventus in the game with his goalkeeping before the all-important equalizer.

In a super-quick early counterattack after defending a Juventus corner, Barcelona broke up field in numbers, with first-half goal-scorer Ivan Rakitic again on the ball.

The Barcelona midfielder flicked a pass out wide to Luis Suarez. The Barcelona striker aimed for Buffon’s near post with a shot from the outside of his foot. The 37-year-old ‘keeper kept it out.

___

GOAL! Juventus 1 (Alvaro Morata 54) Barcelona 1

___

9:43 p.m.

Barcelona is 45 minutes away from lifting the European Cup for the fifth time, and fourth time in a decade.

It leads 1-0 at halftime in the 2015 Champions League final. Its goal came from an unlikely source: midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

Juventus is finding that the danger when facing the champions of Spain comes from so many places.

Toward the end of an engrossing first 45 minutes, Luis Suarez shaved Gianluigi Buffon’s right-hand post with a shot that the Barcelona striker somehow squeezed out as he was wriggling through the Juventus defense.

Suarez tested Buffon again a minute later with a shot from the left that the 37-year-old Buffon got both palms to.

Paul Pogba, Juventus’ 22-year-old midfielder seen as a future megastar, has yet to really demonstrate why he is coveted by top European teams.

His partner in the Italian midfield, Arturo Vidal, popped up everywhere, covering more ground than anyone as the champions of Italy labored to cancel out Rakitic’s goal in the 4th minute.

Four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi dribbled through the Juventus defense at the end of the first half but has yet to set the game alight.

___

9:22 p.m.

No lack of effort from Juventus, trying to get back in the Champions League final and cancel out Barcelona’s early 1-0 lead.

Striker Alvaro Morata should have done better with a chance in the 24th minute, in front of the Barcelona goal. But the 22-year-old from Spain didn’t connect sweetly with the ball, shooting wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal.

Midfielder Claudio Marchisio was far more threatening two minutes later, shooting from about 25 meters out, but the ball’s rising trajectory carried it over the bar.

Having roared to a quick lead, Barcelona is a little bit quieter now. Its fans, however, aren’t. Their singing has been lusty and a drummer is keeping up a steady beat from their section of the Olympic Stadium.

___

9:10p.m.

Having launched the attack that put Barcelona ahead, Lionel Messi almost created a second goal. A diving Neymar just failed by a whisker to get on the end of Messi’s long pass.

Gianluigi Buffon is having a torrid time in the Juventus goal and is yelling at his teammates. The 37-year-old still has the reflexes of a cat, getting a left hand to a shot from Barcelona right-back Dani Alves that otherwise would have gone in.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir has shown his first card, a yellow, to Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal for clipping Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona has been the most impressive of the two sides in the first 20 minutes, with Neymar especially looking dangerous in space down the left. At the other end, Paul Pogba nearly found striker Carlos Tevez with a pass across the box at the end of a surging run. But Javier Mascherano cut out the ball.

___

8:59 p.m.

How good is Barcelona? So good that it needed just 3 minutes, 30 seconds to tear Juventus apart. It leads 1-0.

A deep pass from Lionel Messi started the attack. Jordi Alba collected on the left wing and passed to Neymar, who then slipped it to Andres Iniesta in the box. With a neat flick of his right foot, Iniesta found Ivan Rakitic, who thumped past Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal from eight meters.

___

GOAL! Juventus 0 Barcelona 1 (Ivan Rakitic 4)

___

8:49 p.m.

The 2015 Champions League final is underway, kicked off by Juventus.

___

8:43 p.m.

As the sun sinks into a fiery ball on the Berlin horizon, the pitch for the Champions League final has been turned into a riot of color by 400 performers in the opening ceremony.

Soprano Nina Maria Fisher and tenor Manual Gomez Ruiz are singing the Champions League anthem, Handel’s “Zadok the Priest,” accompanied by 50 voices of the Junges Ensemble Berlin Choir.

The teams have filed out.

Kickoff is moments away.

___

8:35 p.m.

Environmental activists are piggybacking on the Champions League final spotlight, unfurling a giant banner from a towering stone pillar that overlooks the Olympic Stadium, venue of tonight’s showpiece match.

The banner urges Russian energy giant Gazprom, a tournament sponsor, not to drill for oil in the Artic.

Our Associated Press reporter Rob Harris tweeted this photo of the “No Artic Oil” banner flapping in the breeze: https://twitter.com/RobHarris/status/607251598159552512

Not sure that many fans saw it: Eyes are riveted on the pre-tournament show.

___

8:27 p.m.

What theater.

There’s a resounding battle of noise between the tens of thousands of opposing fans in the Olympic Stadium. Shrill whistling from the Juventus half was as loud as a jumbo jet on take-off when the stadium announcer read out the Barcelona players’ names. Barca fans returned the favor when the Juventus lineup was announced.

___

8:15 p.m.

The referee for the Champions League final, Cuneyt Cakir, is not shy about pulling out red cards in big games.

At the 2012 Club World Cup final, the 38-year-old from Turkey sent off Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Corinthians won 1-0.

In 2013, he sent off Manchester United’s Nani in a Champions League last-16 match.

Cakir’s assistants at the Olympic Stadium are his countrymen Bahattin Duran and Tarik Ongun. The fourth official is Jonas Eriksson from Sweden.

Two additional assistant referees, Huseyin Gocek and Baris Simsek, are also from Turkey. A reserve assistant referee, Mustafa Emre Eyisoy, completes the officiating team.

___

8:01 p.m.

No surprises from either Massimiliano Allegri or Luis Enrique. The Juventus and Barcelona coaches are sticking with the winning formulas that got their teams to the Champions League final.

Barcelona is unchanged from the side that lost 3-2 loss at Bayern Munich in the semifinal, second leg, but which still advanced 5-3 on aggregate to the final. 2010 World Cup winning goal scorer Andres Iniesta starts in the Barcelona midfield, seemingly recovered from a right knee problem.

For Juventus, Andrea Barzagli replaces injured defender Giorgio Chiellini. That is the only change in the team that tied 1-1 with Real Madrid in the semifinal, second leg, to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

___

7:50 p.m.

How the finalists line up:

Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar.

Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Patrice Evra; Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal; Alvaro Morata, Carlos Tevez.

___

7:36 p.m.

Some thrive, others wilt under the intense pressure of club football’s biggest game, the Champions League final. Paul Pogba looks like he can’t wait.

The Juventus midfielder, chewing what looks like a plastic coffee-stirrer, sported an ear-to-ear grin as he wandered onto the Olympic Stadium pitch. He whipped out his mobile phone to record the scene for posterity and went over to greet a section of Juventus fans.

Neymar - a prong in the Barcelona attacking trio, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, that has scored 120 goals so far this season - is looking cool as a cucumber, too. Headphones on, the Brazilian sang to himself as he came off the Barcelona bus. Samba, perhaps.

Down in the locker rooms, the players’ jerseys await. Video here: https://twitter.com/FCBarcelona/status/607235500638912512

___

7:15 p.m.

The venue for the Champions League final, Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, is steeped in history, some of it very dark.

The Nazis built it as their showpiece arena to milk the propaganda value of the 1936 Olympic Games. Adolf Hitler himself selected the design by brothers Werner and Walter March.

But sharecroppers’ son Jesse Owens stole the Olympic show. Winning four gold medals, the black American made a mockery of Nazi claims of Aryan supremacy. Hitler refused to enter the stadium when Owens competed.

Barcelona and Juventus fans are flocking to the stadium on a road named in his honor. Owens is also remembered - along with other gold medalists from 1936 - on a stone plaque carved with their names. Here’s a photo: https://twitter.com/johnleicester/status/607202230261972992

After the Allied victory in 1945, British troops took over the arena. In 2002, during renovation work, a 250-kilogram (550-pound) British bomb was plucked from beneath the lower ring of seats.

___

6:57 p.m.

Downtown, at the Brandenburg Gate that was on the dividing line between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, it is party time, with a capital ‘P.’

Fans of Juventus and Barcelona, the Champions League finalists, are filling the air with chants, bouncing up and down in unison, waving flags and quenching their thirst with beer on the German capital’s hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures into the high 20s Celsius (above 80 Fahrenheit.)

Many Barca fans have been letting their hair down at Breitscheidplatz in the west of Berlin, while Juve fans massed at Alexanderplatz in the east. One of them set off a flare, sending others scampering for safety. Police officers are patrolling in numbers around the city.

___

6:45 p.m.

Sick of FIFA corruption? Itching for Sepp Blatter to make good on his promise to leave soccer’s governing body? In which case, let the football - not its sordid politics - take your mind off the unpleasantness for a few hours.

The Champions League final is two hours away. Thousands of sun-roasted but expectant fans are thronging at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin for the ultimate showcase of club football and are painting the town Juventus white and black and Barcelona red and blue.

As these pictures from our Associated Press photographers show, spirits are high: http://tinyurl.com/nprvnvu , http://tinyurl.com/n9mbn24

One quarter of the stadium looks like a copy of the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s stadium, with seats in the club’s colors and writing out its slogan: “Mes Que Un Club” - “More than a club.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide