A Lionel Messi show meant Manchester United’s Champions League journey ended at the quarter-finals stage. FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points.
5. Rashford squanders golden opportunity
Manchester United started the game brightly, moving the ball around with purpose and pinching it back quickly whenever they lost it. In fact, such was their desire in the early stages that Rashford was handed a clear opening on goal as early as 30 seconds into the game, Paul Pogba setting the youngster up – only to see his shot clip the bar and go out of play.
It was a moment United would eventually come to rue as Lionel Messi turned up the style to bring their Champions League campaign to an end.
4. Young and De Gea’s brain fade moment
Manchester United were well and truly in the game, creating chances and trading punches with the home team until Ashley Young decided to take matters into his own hands. Trying to play their way out from the back, Young’s moment of hesitation gifted Lionel Messi the ball who proceeded to beat Fred before slotting the ball into the far corner past David de Gea.
It was De Gea’s turn next, the Spaniard allowing Messi’s weak shot to squirm under his body and into the net, effectively ending United’s hopes before the first quarter had even ended.
3. The Lionel Messi show
The best goalscorer. The best passer. The best player. Lionel Messi showcased every facet of his game on a night where he turned the Nou Camp into his very own playground, toying with Manchester United throughout the 90 minutes.
The Argentine opened the scoring with a deadly strike, before adding a second courtesy to De Gea’s horrible mistake. He even had a little tribute act to Xavi/Iniesta in store, setting up Coutinho for the third with a wonderful piece of vision, ultimately running out of time to complete what would have been a fitting hat-trick.
2. Pogba fails to step up
Failing to justify Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s belief in him, Paul Pogba failed to deliver on the big stage yet again for Manchester United. The best midfielder on the pitch, at least in terms of reputation, Pogba failed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, which has become a recurrent theme in his three years at United – flattering to deceive time and again.
1. Barcelona set up Liverpool showdown
After being knocked out in the last-eight for three years running, Barcelona finally ended their quarter-finals hoodoo with an emphatic 4-0 aggregate victory against Manchester United.
The Catalans never looked like shifting out of second gear, however, and on the evidence of their two legs against United, they will have to put in a much-improved showing if they are to get past the semi-final stage of the competition where they will mostly be pitted against Merseyside heavyweights – Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.