27/05/2009 21:35, Report by Jon Crampin
Beaten by the better team
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the newly-crowned European champions Barcelona, admitting, "We were beaten by the better side."
The Catalan club ended the Reds manager's dream of becoming the first boss to lead his team to back-to-back triumphs in the Champions League, but after the game he graciously conceded that United had been second best on the night.
“We started the game well, and we could have been in front,” Sir Alex told ITV Sport.
"The (Eto'o) goal was a killer for us. It’s hard getting the ball back off them, because they use it so well. They were the better team on the night.”
Sir Alex feels defensive errors let his side down in Rome.
“They were two bad goals to lose at this level,” he said. “Our defence has excelled this season, they’ve been fantastic. But they were two very shoddy goals tonight.
"I don’t think we played as well as we can, but we were playing against a very good side, and we’ve got to give them credit.”
But despite the manner of United’s first Champions League defeat since the 2007 semi-final, Sir Alex paid tribute to his team’s efforts throughout a successful season.
“We’ve done well. It has been a long season - that was our 66th game - and you’ve got to give the players great credit for the courage and resilience they’ve shown throughout.
"Now we have to come back stronger. That’s what we do at this club. We have to accept it, we’ve been beaten by the better team. Next season, we’ll be stronger.”