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Barcelona erupts in ecstasy after Champions win

Written by: Staff

BARCELONA, May 18: For 76 minutes, Barcelona seemed like a ghost town, silence hanging heavy as fans watched their beloved team trail 1-0 to Arsenal in the Champions League final last night.

But when Samuel Eto'o equalised with 14 minutes left and Brazilian substitute Juliano Belletti added what proved to be the winner five minutes later, the silence was smashed by a cacophony of car horns, claxons and chants of ''Campeones, Campeones, Ole, Ole, Ole!''.

''When Arsenal scored my heart sank to my stomach, I couldn't bear it'' said Guillerm Martin, 31.

''It was almost worse when Barca equalised because you never know what can happen but they pulled through like real champions,'' he said, heading off for an all-night party in the centre of town.

Strangers jumped into each others' arms, scooter riders waved flags and fans stuck in a huge traffic jam leant out of their car windows to hug each other and slap high fives.

A group of Dutch tourists wearing their nation's bright orange shirts were caught up in the celebrations, dancing in the tree-lined streets with the Spanish.

They claimed a small part of the victory on behalf of Barca's Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard, who became only the fifth man to win the European Cup as both a player and a coach.

''When Arsenal scored, I was fine because I was sure we would still win,'' said 19-year-old university student Xenia Fabregas.

''We're going to dance 'till dawn. Forget class tomorrow. It's not every night that Barca wins the Champions League''.

Near Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium club workers had already prepared the open-topped bus that carried the team through the streets only a couple of weeks ago when they won the Spanish League.

For some fans, the double whammy was just the beginning of a trend for the Catalan side.

''The Champions League is the Champions League, it proves we're the best,'' said Carlos Argregas, 32, a bank worker.

''Now we're on a winning streak. We have the Champions League and that opens the way for us to win more and more titles.'' Even in Madrid, home to Barca's arch rivals Real, Spaniards took to the streets in celebration.

''OK, we don't like Barca much but we rarely need much of an excuse to party and tonight was another victory for Spain,'' said Adrian Torres, 28.

''First Sevilla won the UEFA cup, now Barca have won the Champions League. Now all we have left is for Spain to win the World Cup. Time to bring them all home.''


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