Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Barcelona were the best side he had ever faced in 25 years as Manchester United manager after his dreams of a third Champions League triumph were wrecked by a sumptuous Catalan performance at Wembley.
While Wayne Rooney equalised Pedro's opener in the first half, second half strikes by Lionel Messi and David Villa gave Barcelona a deserved 3-1 victory which could have been even more convincing as United were out-passed and out-played in a 3-1 defeat by the La Liga champions
Ferguson said: "In my time as a manager it is the best team we have faced. I think everyone acknowledges that. I accept that. It's not easy when you have been well beaten like that to think any other way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It's a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and they enjoy their football."
He added: "They mesmerise you with their passing and we never really controlled Messi. When we got the lifeline of Wayne Rooney I expected us to do better in the second half but it wasn't to be."
Ferguson insisted United tried to play their normal game which was good enough the win the Premier League this season but they never got to grips with the way Barcelona dominated midfield. He also claimed he never considered man-marking Messi, who was voted man of the match after scoring for the first time on English soil as a Barcelona player.
Ferguson said: "We tried to play the way we normally play. It's alien to us to man-mark players, It wasn't good enough on the night. We understand that and we acknowledge it and we can step forward from here.
"Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they (Barcelona) are in at the moment is the best in Europe, there's no question of that. How long it lasts, whether they can replace that team at another point...they certainly have the philosophy. Can you find players like Xavi and Iniesta and Messi all the time? Probably not. But they are enjoying the moment that they have just now."
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, insisted he would be staying at the Nou Camp for one more season at least.
When asked if he was interested in the vacant job at Chelsea he said: "I will say it again, I have another year on my contract and I intend to work it out. You have girls falling at your feet when you win but that can change overnight.
"I feel privileged to have these players. Everyone has worked towards this. We are very happy. But I have to look inside of me. I am happy to be here as coach of these guys. but it is not an easy job."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.