How Messi’s 600th Magic Goal Sank Liverpool In UCL Semi-Final


Lionel Messi scored twice to put Barcelona in control of their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool, winning 3-0 in the first leg at the Nou Camp.

It was former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez who put the hosts ahead in the 26th minute, flicking a lovely Jordi Alba cross home home over Alisson and the 32-year-old did not hide his celebrations.

Barcelona rode the wave of Liverpool pressure at the start of the second half and Messi (75) was in the right place at the right time as he slotted home after Suarez had hit the bar.

But his real moment of magic came seven minutes later as he swept a sensational free-kick around the Liverpool wall and into the top corner, scoring his 600th goal for the club and putting Barcelona in pole position to reach their first Champions League final since 2015.

Liverpool’s team selection was perplexing, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino on the bench while James Milner, Georgino Wijnaldum, Naby Keita and Fabinho all started. When the game began, Wijnaldum took up the false nine role left vacant by Firmino with a flat midfield three as Jurgen Klopp maintained an eye on Saturday’s crunch Premier League game against Newcastle.

It was an entertaining first half, with Philippe Coutinho attempting to strike an early blow to his former side, but his 16th minute strike – which was offside – went whistling past Alisson’s far post.

For all the pre-match questions on Liverpool’s formation, it was thrown slightly into disarray as Keita picked up a groin issue following a clash with Ivan Rakitic. He was replaced after 24 minutes by Jordan Henderson, and two minutes later, a familiar face came back to haunt Liverpool.

A sensational cross from Jordi Alba on the left picked out the run of Suarez through the middle of the two centre-backs. He then flicked the ball over the top of Alisson with a delightful finish before celebrating his first Champions League goal of the season with a knee slide in front of the Nou Camp crowd.

Liverpool should have equalised in the 35th minute when Henderson slotted a ball in behind Pique, picking out the advancing Mane. He only had the goalkeeper to beat from 15 yards, but could only send his effort flying over the crossbar.

Liverpool started the second half on the front foot as they searched for the all-important away goal and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was called into action. He denied Milner twice – once with a curling effort and the second a fierce drive into his hands – and got down low to keep out a Mohamed Salah effort in between.

But for all of Liverpool’s possession and pressure in the second period, it was Barcelona who doubled their lead in the 75th minute. Suarez’s initial effort hammered against the crossbar but Messi was waiting to roll the rebounded ball home with Alisson well off his line.

It was a moment of sheer class from Messi in the 82nd minute as he netted Barcelona’s third and bought up his 600th goal for the club. He lined up a free-kick from 25 yards out after a foul from Fabinho on the Argentine and he got the delivery inch-perfect as he curled the ball around the Liverpool wall and into the top corner.


Samson Oyedeyi

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