Messi inspired, Barca thrash Manchester United by 3-0, enter UCL Semi-Final

Lionel Messi and the Barcelona side ran Manchester United off the field in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal matchup, winning 3-0 (4-0 aggregate) thanks to goals from Lionel Messi (twice) and Philippe Coutinho.

United, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, started brightly but were then undone by brilliance from Messi and a glaring mistake from goalkeeper David de Gea.

Messi put the hosts ahead with a fine curling effort from 20 yards in the 16th minute and four minutes later De Gea let a weaker shot from the edge of the area squirm under his body for the Argentine’s second. Philippe Coutinho added a third for Barca in the 61st minute, curling a stunning effort into the top corner from distance as Barcelona made sure that Manchester United wouldn’t enjoy another famous Champions League comeback at its hallowed Camp Nou.

It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stoppage-time goal in the final against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in 1999 that claimed the European trophy for Man United, but the times, opponent and stakes are all different this time around. Twenty years later, Solskjaer, now the Man United manager, couldn’t contain Messi for a second straight match and couldn’t guide an effort that snapped Barcelona’s home unbeaten streak in the Champions League, which now sits at 31 games.

United hit the bar inside the first 40 seconds through Marcus Rashford but were dominated after going behind. Alexis Sanchez’s diving header, which was spectacularly saved by Barca goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen in the 90th minute, was as close as the visitors came in the second half.

It was a sobering night for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the ground where he scored his most famous goal, the stoppage-time winner in the 1999 Champions League final.

Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort in the 16th minute after he won possession of the ball, ghosted past a defender and curled a shot into the far corner.

The second came just four minutes later, although Messi was helped by a massive error by David de Gea that time. The Argentina forward only managed a tame shot on goal but the Spain goalkeeper let it slip underneath him and into the net.

Philippe Coutinho added a third goal with a superb curling strike from long range in the 61st to cap arguably the best performance by the former Liverpool player since joining Barcelona a little more than a year ago.

After a promising start when Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar, Messi showed that sentimental memories mean very little when he is playing at his best. The goals ended Messi’s bizarre scoring drought in Champions League quarter-finals that had reached 12 matches dating back to 2013.



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