Quick control and a perfectly placed finish. We saw him do it at Wembley against Manchester United (3-1), and last night he did it again to Milan (4-0). Versus United he did with his right foot, and he used his left against the ‘rossoneri', but the celebration was the same: a long run, knees to the ground, arms open and a look of joy on his face. That’s David Villa.

And there were other similarities. In both cases, Villa scored his team’s third goal, the one that eased off some of the intense pressure. In May 2011, his goal practically sealed the win, while his strike at the Camp Nou put Barça in command and eliminated the worrying possibility of extra time, in which a Milan goal could have been devastating.

Speaking after the game, he said “we are so happy for the fans, they deserved some joy like that. When we have good days like these, the bad ones are forgotten.” David Villa received a standing ovation from the fans when he was substituted by Alexis in the 75th minute.

Almost identical eleven

David Villa has not been a regular feature of the first team this season, and has often been sidelined in favour of Tello or Alexis. In fact, this was only the second time he has started a Champions League match this term. But although the side was relatively unlike the usual first eleven this season, it was an almost identical line-up to that of the 2011 UCL final, the only change being Alba instead of Abidal.

Villa hadn’t scored in the Champions League since October 19, 2011 against Victoria Plzen (2-0), although he was out of action for several months following his injury at the Clubs World Cup. But his 13 goals since returning suggest that nothing has gone wrong with his goalscoring instinct, and he still has the second highest goal tally of the season, only bettered by an extraordinary Messi – who he embraced at the end of the game. They were the two stars of the 2011 final, and two years later, it is those two who are once again seeking the same magic at the same venue.

Back to top