Two mistakes by Manchester United were enough for Lionel Messi to score twice and end their hopes of a Camp Nou comeback, as Barça rolled into the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday.
After an exciting and promising start, United were undone twice in four minutes by Messi, who first stole the ball off Ashley Young and then watched as a gentle shot squeezed underneath goalkeeper David de Gea.
Philippe Coutinho scored a superb third goal with a curling shot into the top corner for Barcelona to finally win 4-0 on aggregate.
Coutinho has endured a difficult time since moving to Barça for £142 million in January 2018, but the former Liverpool forward gave a great reminder of his quality to wrap up the victory.
Within the first minute United’s Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar, and the team had continued to threaten for the first quarter of the match.
United fans were hoping for another classic comeback – and If any team could stage such a comeback, it is Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s side.
The ‘Reds’ made a habit of remarkable late turnarounds under Sir Alex Ferguson, prompting stoppage time to be termed ‘Fergie Time’. And Fergie’s greatest triumph took place at the Camp Nou, with Solskjær the protagonist. However, it was not to be.
It was the first time Solskjaer had played or managed at the Camp Nou since scoring that treble-clinching winner for United in the final seconds of the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
‘We are confident but humble enough to know it’s our hardest night of the season,’ the Norwegian manager said before kick-off.
Liverpool, who take a 2-0 lead to Porto on Wednesday, are the most likely obstacle between Barça and their first Champions League final since they last won this tournament in 2015.
This will be the 8th Champions League semi-final for Barcelona in 12 years.
Messi has now scored 110 Champions League goals and, potentially, has three extra matches to reduce the gap on Cristiano Ronaldo‘s 126, after Juventus were dumped out by Ajax. The fans at Camp Nou celebrated that too.