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Liverpool spirit inspired Barca to fight back, says Eto'o

Written by: Staff

PARIS, May 18: Samuel Eto'o says the example of Liverpool's dramatic fightback victory in last year's final inspired his side to come from a goal behind to beat Arsenal to win their second European Cup.

''After seeing Liverpool last year we knew that we couldn't drop our heads,'' the Barca striker told a news conference after his side's 2-1 victory at the Stade de France yesterday.

''At halftime we looked for the spirit that Liverpool showed last year and that helped us through in the end.'' Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down at halftime to beat AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul last May.

This year it was Barcelona who struggled as they appeared unable to take advantage of the 18th-minute sending off of Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and then fell behind when defender Sol Campbell headed home late in the first half.

But Eto'o became the first man in 11 matches to find a way past the miserly Arsenal defence when he steered in low past substitute keeper Manuel Almunia at the near post 14 minutes from time.

Five minutes later Brazilian full back Juliano Belletti delivered a fatal blow to Arsenal's hopes when he battered the ball past Almunia after some great work by Henrik Larsson.

''I don't think it was just my night,'' said Eto'o, who was draped in a Cameroon flag and accompanied by his young son as he spoke to the media.

''It wasn't Belletti's night either, it was Barca's night. It was the great night for the club, the directors, the fans and our friends.

''I joined Barca for moments like this,'' added the former Real Madrid player whose electric run towards goal had provoked Lehmann into making the foul that caused him to be sent off.

''The referee did what he thought best,'' Eto'o commented when asked about the incident. ''Initially we thought he had let play go on and the goal had counted, but he said he had blown and we accepted his decision.

''They sent off the keeper, but it appeared as though they were still playing with 11 men because they did so well, but we managed to turn it around in the end.

Eto'o said he spoke to opposite number Thierry Henry after the match, consoling the Frenchman who has been widely tipped as a Barcelona recruit for next season.

''It was a real shame that someone had to lose,'' he said. ''They played really well, but that's the way it goes in football.

''It's an incredible feeling to win. I wanted my son to see my team win the Champions League one day. I hope now that one day he will be able to see them win it again.'' REUTERS

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