Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his Manchester United lost to the better side as Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League final 2-0 in Rome, but vowed to come back even stronger.
United were bright in the initial exchanges but after Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring on ten minutes, there was only one team in the game as Barcelona over-ran their opponents in midfield. Lionel Messi made it 2-0 after 70 minutes and the Red Devils could muster nothing in response.
"In fairness we were beaten by the best team. We weren't at our best," Ferguson said. "The first goal was a killer, it was a bad start to the game. If you give them the ball they will keep it all night. But the best part of the game is that in adversity you always move forward quicker. We're all disappointed, but we're a young team."
Ferguson added a second striker at half-time, with Carlos Tevez replacing the ineffective Anderson. "I brought on Tevez simply because I took the gamble of playing two through (the middle)," the Scot said, reflecting on the change. "Ryan Giggs, in the first half, provided something and some parts of his game were good but what we needed was someone to be there all the time. But they (Barcelona) defended quite well. We had plenty of time and we had some half-chances which we maybe should have done better with."
Barça forward Thierry Henry celebrated his side's triumph by insisting that victory, rather than the considerable style in which it was achieved, was most important. "You always remember winners, that's the difference. You can play good football, pass the ball well but unless you win silverware sometimes it doesn't count," he said.
The Frenchman, who admitted his disappointment at his failure to take the same trophy during his time with Arsenal, also hailed his side's unique treble following their domestic league and cup triumphs. "I struggle to describe what we have achieved this year. No team has ever done this treble in Spain. It is something amazing," he said. "Apart from the way we play it is also down to the way we fought all season. Look at tonight - in the first ten minutes we were kind of lucky and playing against a United side who are difficult to beat. But we fight and we never give up."
On Arsenal, who lost to Barça in the 2006 final, Henry added: "I will always have disappointments from Arsenal because they are in my heart and in my blood. That disappointment will always remain in my career but tonight I am happy."