17th April, 2019
Lionel Messi showed his class once again as he spearheaded the demolition of Manchester United at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening with a brace en-route to a 3-0 bashing of the visitors.
Before the first leg game, Manchester United’s defender, Chris Smalling had boasted that he knew how to keep Messi quiet in a game. He went on to bloody up the Argentinian in that game and must have thought that was the secret to stopping Messi.
But then, he should have asked Ramos and Real Madrid what happens when you draw blood from Messi. He did not ask and had to find out by experiencing it himself as the Barcelona “Captain Marvelous” made a mincemeat of him on the field of play on Tuesday evening in the return leg.
The two goals from Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to a 3-0 defeat of Manchester United and a 4-0 aggregate triumph in their Champions League quarter-final tie.
Having had a 1-0 advantage from the first meeting at Old Trafford, the Catalans took command inside the first 20 minutes thanks to a double from their number 10, the second of which owed plenty to a dreadful mistake from David de Gea.
ManU featured an attacking line-up featuring Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, but the blow of those first-half goals seemed to drain any hope of repeating the kind of performance they produced to stun Paris Saint-Germain in France in the last 16.
The game was firmly concluded by a sublime goal from Philippe Coutinho, who will likely get the chance to face his former club Liverpool in the semi-finals if they see off Porto on Wednesday.
Manchester United started on a promising note as Rashford prodded a shot against the bar but they engineered their own downfall within the space of four minutes.
This happened as Ashley Young dithered in possession and lost the ball near his own box, allowing Messi to step into space and drill a shot beyond De Gea and into the bottom-left corner.
There was not much De Gea could have done about that first goal but he experienced a calamitous moment 20 minutes later as he allowed Messi’s tame right-foot shot to squeeze beneath his body and into the net.
The Manchester United goalkeeper did much better later as he denied a certain Sergi Roberto goal after Messi left Phil Jones chasing shadows.
He was however again helpless as Barca struck a third on the hour mark, Coutinho sending a stunning strike beyond his outstretched right hand.
Barcelona’s goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a magnificent 90th-minute save from substitute Alexis Sanchez, but United were well beaten and must now fight to turn around their recent form after a fifth defeat in seven games in all competitions.
As things stand right now, the optimism Solskjaer brought back to United appears to have run dry. They started positively but gifted Barca the tie with mistakes, making it eight years now without a semi-final appearance. A return to next year’s competition is no guarantee, either.
On the other hand, Barcelona might have looked short of their best at times across the two legs, but Messi looks like a man on a mission this season. With him in such form, a treble is very much on the cards.
The whole encounter seemed to dance to Messi’s tune. His second goal – his 45th of the season – might have been fortunate, but he deserves all the plaudits that come his way.
Lionel Messi surely appears determined to get his hands on this trophy again.