Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic admitted his side were beaten by the better team as Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley tonight.
Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa scored the goals for Barcelona, with Wayne Rooney scoring for the English champions and Vidic praised the performance of the Catalan masters. "I think if you look at it we have never played a team in the past like Barcelona, they played good football and deserved to win," he told ITV.
"We tried to press high and in some parts of the game we did well. The goals we lost, we didn't do what we have to do to close their players down. When they have time on the ball they can make the final pass and that is what they did."
Vidic's defensive partner Rio Ferdinand concurred with his skipper's view that United were second best against the four-time winners. "We gave it a better shot this time than last time (in Rome in 2009), we had a couple of opportunities," Ferdinand told Sky Sports.
"We got back in it at 1-1 and thought we could come back and win but it wasn't to be, we have to give them credit. A couple of the goals were preventable but you have to give credit where it's due. They've got a system they work to and did it well. We had a game plan we thought could beat them, but wasn't to be."
The game also brought an end to Edwin van der Sar's career and the keeper followed the lead of Vidic and Ferdinand by hailing the Barcelona performance "(I played) one game too many I think, it is not nice to lose of course. They had the better chances and we made one or two mistakes and they punish you," he told ITV.
The 40-year-old also believed he could not have done any better with Messi's long-range effort that put Barcelona ahead after the break. "I thought I was positioned well," he said. "He tends to curl it into the far post but he didn't. They are very good, you have to try and score the first goal and we didn't do that. It is not always a given, I thank everyone for the memories."
Barcelona's Javier Mascherano, deployed as a centre-half due to club captain Carles Puyol's injury, told Sky Sports: "We are really happy, we beat a fantastic team and played in the way we know to play. To win the Champions League, for any footballer, is the top title. For the last two months I have played centre-back, it's not my natural position but I tried to give my best to team and I am happy because we won the title."
The Argentinian international, of course, was signed from United's fierce rivals Liverpool and he had a message for the Anfield faithful. "I know the Liverpool supporters were a little bit sad with me after my exit, this is for them as well," Mascherano added.
Fergie expected to do better
Even United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged the club's opponents tonight are the best team he has faced in his long and distinguished career. "We were beaten, there is no other way to address the situation, by the best team," he told ITV. "I expected us to do better but at the end of the day we were beaten by the better team. They are the best team we have ever played, they are at the peak in this cycle of their team.
"There was good evidence we are a consistently good European team but we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there is no shame in that. Sometimes you come up against a far better team and tonight was one of those nights."
With regard to his own team's performance, Ferguson admitted United's season had ended in frustrating fashion. "We expected to do better, simple as that," he said. "We have had a great season in many ways, it is just disappointing that we have been to Wembley twice and been beaten. We are just disappointed it has ended on this note."