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Lehmann sent off as Barca triumph

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Lehmann became the first man sent off in a European Cup final.

PARIS, France -- Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann became the first player sent off in a European Cup final as Barcelona triumphed 2-1 at a rain-drenched Stade de France on Wednesday.

Lehmann saw red after 18 minutes and battling Arsenal took the lead against the odds in the 37th minute when central defender Sol Campbell headed home a Thierry Henry freekick.

Samuel Eto'o equalized after 76 minutes as Arsenal began to tire and four minutes later substitute Juliano Belletti gave Barcelona victory in the 50th anniversary final.

It was a fitting outcome for Frank Rijkaard's side who battered the London club throughout the second half.

Rijkaard, who steered Barca to a second successive Spanish title this season, became only the fifth man to win the European Cup as a player and a manager.

Germany's World Cup keeper Lehmann was dismissed after fouling Eto'o just outside the area as the striker raced towards goal.

The Cameroon international stumbled but managed to feed the ball to Ludovic Giuly who drilled the ball into the net.

Norwegian referee Terje Hauge, who sent off Chelsea full back Asier del Horno when the Londoners played Barcelona earlier in the competition, pulled play back, sent off Lehmann and awarded a free kick to the Spanish champions outside the area.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger took off French midfielder Robert Pires in his final match for the north London club and replaced him with Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Lehmann, who will be Germany's first choice at the World Cup, was Arsenal's hero against Villarreal in the semifinal when he saved a last-minute penalty by Juan Roman Riquelme.

Without him, the north London came within 15 minutes of pulling off what would have been one of the most unlikely triumphs in the tournament's history.

But after Thierry Henry had squandered his second glorious chance of the evening, the exhausted Gunners were floored by two late sucker punches,

Second trophy

Eto'o's close-range finish and Belletti's equally well-taken strike in the space of four minutes proved enough to secure the Catalan club's second European Cup, 14 years after Ronald Koeman's free-kick decided the 1992 final at Wembley.

For all the pre-match commitments to the creation of a spectacle worthy of the occasion, there was a hint of caution in the way both sides lined up.

Arsenal left Spanish winger Jose Antonio-Reyes out of the five-man midfield that had proved so effective earlier in the tournament.

Rijkaard's concern to shield a sometimes suspect defense was reflected in the inclusion of Marc van Bommel at the expense of the more creative Andres Iniesta.

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Ronaldinho clutches the Champions trophy as Barcelona celebrate.

For the 17 and a bit minutes in which the two sides were playing on equal terms, Arsenal had done enough to suggest their pre-match status as underdogs had been overstated.

Wenger's men came agonisingly close to claiming the lead inside two minutes, when Henry gathered Emmanuel Eboue's cross on the edge of the six-yard box.

A superb first touch carried the Arsenal captain away from Rafael Marquez but Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes got just enough of a contact on his stabbed shot to send it wide.

Henry's frustration was evident in the venom he injected into his next shooting opportunity, forcing Valdes into a good near post save.

Ludovic Giuly provided Barca's first effort on target, Ronaldinho sent a long-range free-kick narrowly over the angle of post and bar and Deco thumped a 20-yard effort straight at Lehmann.

Barca were beginning to find their rhythm and Ronaldinho's pass sent Eto'o clear of the Arsenal back four, forcing Lehmann to sprint off his line.

It was a race the German was always going to lose and his outstretched glove caught Eto'o's boot inches outside the box.

Arsenal responded to the inevitable red card by taking off Pires to make way for Manuel Almunia and Barcelona's chance of taking the lead went begging when Ronaldinho chipped his free-kick wide.

Barcelona began to turn the screw but it was Arsenal who were to take the lead after Eboue's surge into the box was checked by Carlos Puyol.

Unchallenged

Henry chipped the resulting free-kick into the area and England centreback Campbell was unchallenged as he rose to steer his header past Valdes.

A sense that this could be Arsenal's night grew in first-half stoppage time, when Eto'o turned Campbell superbly inside the box only for Almunia to make a brilliant reflex save, his touch just enough to deflect the ball onto the post.

Rijkaard's response was to send on Iniesta in place of the Brazilian Edmilson for the second half, and the Spain midfielder's first contribution was to provoke another fine save from Almunia, diving low to his left.

By the hour mark, when van Bommel was replaced by Henrik Larsson, Barcelona were playing with four forwards ahead of two attack minded midfielders.

But it was Arsenal who looked the more likely scorers as the desperate Catalans began to leave gaps at the back.

Hleb cut inside from the right of the area and sent a left-foot drive a foot wide and then Ljungberg, coming in from the opposing flank, forced Valdes to tip the ball over the bar.

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Eto'o salutes the Barca fans after his equaliser against Arsenal in Paris.

And with 20 minutes left, Henry squandered a wonderful opportunity to deliver what would have been a fatal blow.

Sent clear by Hleb's pass through the inside right channel, the Frenchman steered his low shot too close to Valdes and the goalkeeper dived to his right and smothered the ball.

It would have been Henry's 50th goal in European competition, perhaps the final glorious act of a glorious Arsenal career.

Six minutes later Barcelona equalised. Larsson's flick inside the box allowing Eto'o to get round the back of the back four and squeeze the ball between Almunia and his near post.

It was the first goal Arsenal had conceded in 995 minutes of Champions League play but worse was to follow when they conceded a second six minutes later.

Brazilian Belletti grabbed the winner with his first ever goal for Barca when he thundered a shot under Almunia after Larsson had played him in.

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