BERLIN — Barcelona won the Champions League for the fourth time in a decade on Saturday, with Luis Suarez grabbing the crucial goal in a 3-1 victory over Juventus at the end of a season that began with the Uruguay striker serving a ban for biting.
The $110-million recruit from Liverpool scored Barcelona’s second in the 68th minute after Lionel Messi’s shot was palmed away by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Neymar had a goal disallowed for handball but, with the final going into a seventh minute of stoppage time, the Brazil striker found time to score again. This time it counted.
Ivan Rakitic had sent Barcelona into a fourth-minute lead, but the Spanish champions failed to build on their early dominance before Juventus levelled 10 minutes into the second half through Alvaro Morata.
Juventus, though, couldn’t prevent Barcelona from collecting the European Cup for the fifth time as the formidable Messi-Neymar-Suarez front three took their goal tally to 122 this season.
The triumph comes after four years without success in European competition and ensures both coach Luis Enrique and Suarez end their first season with the club with a treble.
Juventus initially looked like it could cause an upset against the most dominant team in Europe in the modern era. Assertive from kick off, Juventus made Barcelona look anxious initially. It didn’t last long — just four minutes, in fact.
In a move that involved all 10 outfield players touching the ball, starting with Jordi Alba’s throw in, Barcelona took the lead.
So often the provider of goals, Messi delivered a precise cross-field pass in the goalward advance. It landed at the feet of Jordi Alba, who played in Neymar and the ball was then slipped through to Andres Iniesta.
With a flick, Iniesta squared for Rakitic to power into the net from close range past Buffon.
The expectation was that Barcelona would take a stranglehold on the final.
Had it not been for Buffon’s stretching save at the start of the second half to deny Suarez, Juventus would have been two behind. Messi, for once, also couldn’t find the target after a one-two with Suarez.
It proved costly. A back-heel from Claudio Marchisio began the move that led to Juve’s equalizer.
An initial shot from Carlos Tevez was parried by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. But Morata, who scored in both legs of the semifinal against former club Real Madrid, sent the follow-up into the net with ease.
Juve didn’t use the opportunity to swing the final in its favour, and Barca was back in front 13 minutes later after launching an electrifying counterattack.
Within five minutes of Suarez’s goal, Barca was celebrating again — but the joy was short-lived. Neymar was spotted to have headed the ball onto his arm before it went past Buffon.
But Neymar did have the final say in this final with the late, late goal.
Rob Harris, The Associated Press