In what was yet another highlight of his sheer brilliance and class on display, Lionel Messi aided Barcelona to the last four of the UEFA Champions League after running a riot in a three-nil win against Manchester United in the quarterfinals of the competition. Despite having taken a one-goal advantage in the reverse fixture at Man United’s Old Trafford Stadium last week, Barcelona still had a task cut out for the second leg at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The visitors were still beaming with confidence from their comeback against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the previous stage of the tournament and that was evident in their bright start which entailed an early scare by Marcus Rashford, as his effort struck the crossbar but that was soon nullified by an absolute gem of a goal by Messi.
The Argentine put the hosts ahead at the 16th-minute mark after a solo goal as he dribbled past defenders from the right flank and cut it inside with a beautiful curling effort leaving United keeper David de Gea all but helpless in the situation. The second goal, however, was a combination of Messi’s effort and a rare howler committed by the Man United keeper as he let past a very saveable and weak strike coming right at him.
Following their 2-0 advantage at home, it was all Barcelona with the possession, leaving the Red Devils side all the more frustrated as their confidence crumbled with every passing minute.
In the second half, Philippe Coutinho revived his Liverpool days as he struck an absolute stunner against the old rivals from distance which fell right at the top corner for the third goal, taking the aggregate scoreline to four-nil. Messi had assisted the goal, with which he registered his direct involvement in all of the goals scored and rightly awarded the ‘Man of The Match’ title after the game.
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With their resounding triumph at the cost of Manchester United’s despair, Barcelona progressed to the semifinals of the coveted Champions League and will be up against the winner of the Liverpool-Porto tie, where the former currently holds a two-goal advantage. Should they go through, it would set the stage for an European classic fixture with former Liverpool cult heroes Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho donning the Catalan club’s jersey against them.