Barcelona beat Chelsea 3-0 to win the UEFA Youth League final on Monday, denying the Blues’ under-19s their third European crown in four years.
Two goals from Alejandro Marques and a late strike from Abel Ruiz were enough to boost the Catalan giants, who lifted the trophy in the inaugural competition in 2014, despite a spirited second-half rally from Joe Edwards’ team at Stade de Colovray in Nyon, Switzerland.
Marques opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when he headed in a pinpoint Ruiz cross from the left flank, rewarding Barcelona for a start in which they had dominated possession and largely pinned Chelsea in their own half.
Barcelona remained the more threatening side after going ahead and doubled their advantage on 51 minutes, with Marques dispossessing Marc Guehi in a dangerous position and finishing coolly beyond Jamie Cumming.
Chelsea, who booked their place in the final with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Porto on Friday, did not have a shot at goal until five minutes later when Luke McCormick’s overhead kick landed just wide of the far post, but they created chances to turn the tide in the final half hour of the game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi struck the foot of the post with a free-kick from a central position, then clipped in an inviting cross that Charlie Brown headed onto the bar and over.
Having weathered the late storm, Barcelona capped their victory in the second minute of injury time when Ruiz knocked the ball past George McEachran and fired into the corner.
With the senior Chelsea side on course to finish fifth in the Premier League, Edwards’ team are not guaranteed to be in next season’s UEFA Youth League. They can, however, make sure of qualification by beating Manchester United in the Premier League under-18 national final next month.
They will also resume their FA Youth Cup defence with the first leg of this season’s final against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Friday, led by under-18 coach Jody Morris.
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.