Benfica vs. Barcelona: UEFA Youth League Final Score and Report

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Benfica vs. Barcelona: UEFA Youth League Final Score and Report
Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Barcelona triumphed 3-0 over Benfica in the UEFA Youth League final in Nyon on Monday courtesy of a Munir El Haddadi double and Rodrigo Tarin's first-half strike. 

The Catalan side were 1-0 up inside the first 10 minutes when Tarin pounced on a parried shot from El Haddadi by Benfica keeper Thierry Graca to fire home from six yards.    

Their lead was doubled after Adama Traore stormed into the box and set up El Haddadi on the edge of the area to score his 10th goal of the tournament.

El Haddadi then finished it off in some style at the Stade Colovray with a stunning strike from the half-way line with just two minutes remaining.

Both sides had reached the final through good semi-final victories on Friday at the same stadium. Benfica saw off Real Madrid 4-0 while Barca claimed a narrow but deserved 1-0 victory over Schalke thanks to a goal from El Haddidi.  

The stage was set for a great encounter in the inaugural final of the competition with UEFA's Martyn Hindley reporting a good atmosphere:

UEFA's Sam Adams tweeted the scene prior to the game:

Barcelona and star performer El Haddadi took the game by the scruff of the neck early on, the 18-year-old charging into the box in the ninth minute and forcing a save from Graca that Tarin then cooly sent home.

Three minutes later, Benfica were given a great chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty after Elohor Godswill upended Rochinha. But Romario Balde could only smash it against the crossbar from the spot, and Barcelona maintained their lead.

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Benfica continued to pressure the opposition defence, but despite Rochinha and Nuno Santos forcing saves out of Fabrice Ondoa, they could not register a goal.

And El Haddadi made their task even more difficult when he struck from the edge of the box after Traore's fantastic run down the inside right channel.

The Portuguese side continued to look for a way back in the second half, bringing on forward Hildeberto Pereira with 25 minutes remaining.

But while Balde forced a fine save from Ondoa six minutes from time, it was actually Barcelona that found the net in the latter stages.

First, Wilfrid Kaptoum had a goal disallowed. Then came El Haddadi's moment of magic, which really has to be seen to be fully appreciated:

Barcelona claimed the trophy with a convincing win and Adams shared the crowning moment:

Barcelona sporting director and former goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta was extremely complimentary of the role the UEFA Youth League could play in the advancement of the young players. As reported by UEFA, he said:

It's a very interesting competition. It allows us to evaluate our young talent, but it also allows them to play and experience competition outside the domestic league. [...] It's an extraordinary opportunity.

They enjoy this competition. Playing in this competition is a welcome change to the domestic league matches. It's a different competition. They might have participated in international competitions already, but in this case they associate it with the first team so they really feel like protagonists.

Despite Benfica's endeavour, Barcelona fully deserved their tournament victory, and the likes of El Haddadi look like phenomenal prospects for the future. His performance in particular was very promising as he constantly impacted the action.    

With Barcelona's 14-month transfer ban currently in place, per BBC Sport, they may have to look to the youngsters sooner rather than later. Fortunately, after the quality of play they exhibited, Barcelona will find some real quality amongst them.

 

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