Embed from Getty Images

Lionel Messi scored his 44th and 45th goals of the season as Barcelona put Manchester United out of the Champions League with a dominant second-leg performance at the Camp Nou.

United nearly sprung an early upset when Marcus Rashford tested Marc-Andre Ter Stegen before Barca had a penalty given and then revoked by a VAR review, all inside the first 10 minutes.

However, just the shortest of whiles later, Barca went ahead on the night when Messi curled away one of those finishes that he just never, ever seems to miss…

The dazzling Argentinian was largely dormant at Old Trafford in the first leg, but fully asserted himself as a footballing superpower in the second.

Indeed, just four minutes after his first, Messi added his second goal – though it was a bit of a softy, made entirely possible by an inopportune handling error from David De Gea.

Embed from Getty Images

Barca continued to calmly dominate possession, making the circulation of play and retention of the ball look a doddle while United laboured.

Philippe Coutinho then well and truly put the tie to rest in the second half by adding a third goal (4-0 on aggregate) for the home side on the hour mark.

Restored to the starting line-up after a prolonged fallow period, the former Liverpool midfielder gave a glimpse of his capabilities by thrusting a splendid shot over and round a full-stretch De Gea from outside the area…

Slightly pointed celebration, wethinks.

Barcelona then slowed things right down and coasted to the final whistle, the sound of which signalled their passage into the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since they last won it back in 2014/15.

However, United very nearly salvaged a consolation goal at the death, only for Ter Stegen to paw away Alexis Sanchez’s diving header despite the ball appearing to have pinged past the German ‘keeper at his near post…

Alas, there was to be no recurring Camp Nou dream for Solskjaer as his United squad now look to be petering out as their temporarily-buoyant renaissance fizzles week by week.

Maybe, just maybe, that three-year permanent contract was handed out a smidge too hastily.


GO TO SOURCE
Chris Wright