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Monday, Dec. 21, 2009

Barca captures Club World Cup

ABU DHABI (AP) Barcelona won the Club World Cup on Saturday, beating Estudiantes 2-1 on Lionel Messi's goal in extra time.

Barcelona, the European champion, defeated the South American champion to capture its sixth trophy of 2009.

Messi chested Daniel Alves' cross into the goal in the 110th minute. Estudiantes had gone ahead in the 37th minute on Mauro Boselli's header. The Spanish champions tied the score when Pedro Rodriguez headed home in the 89th minute.

Barcelona's bench burst in celebration once the comeback victory was complete. The Estudiantes players looked on in disbelief or slumped to the ground before the crowd of 43,050 at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola wept as his team prepared to hoist the trophy. Midfielder Xavi Hernandez called it a "historic" night.

Leandro Desabato of Estudiantes nearly tied the score in the dying moments.

"We were so very near to achieving our dream," Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella said.

Earlier, Asian champion Pohang Steelers of South Korea beat Atlante of Mexico on penalty kicks to finish in third place.

Estudiantes, the Copa Libertadores champions from Argentina, was looking for its first global title since 1968 when the club tournament was known as the Intercontinental Cup.

Barcelona had lost in the finals of this event in 2006 and 1992. This year, it had already won the Champions League, Spanish league, Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercup and European Supercup.

"When you go up against a team like Barcelona, a defeat is always the most probable result," Sabella said.

Messi, winner of this year's Golden Ball as Europe's top player, was kept in check until extra time. Then the speedy Argentine ran at the defense before cutting across the penalty area to meet Alves' perfect pass. It was Messi's 16th goal this season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pedro helped Barcelona dominate the second half. Pedro seized on Gerard Pique's header in the penalty area to lob the ball over goalkeeper Damian Albil.

The teams traded early chances before Boselli slipped between defenders Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal to steer Juan Manuel Diaz's cross from the left into the net at the near post.

"They contained us very well for the first half," Xavi said. "But then that great goal from Pedro arrived and changed everything."



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