BARCELONA 3, MANCHESTER UNITED 0 (Barcelona win 4-0 on aggregate)
Lionel Messi scored twice in four first half minutes for Barcelona to bury Manchester United’s hope of qualifying for the Champions League Semi Final.Embed from Getty Images
His goals were down to two mistakes by United players, with Ashley Young and David De Gea complicit in United’s downfall.
But Messi had space aplenty to create Barcelona’s third goal for ex-Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho as the home side completely outclassed the Reds.
And Messi himself could have nailed his hat trick for Barcelona in some style – with an overhead kick after a mistake by Phil Jones – but missed.
It was the first time that United had been beaten on aggregate by four or more goals in the two legged European knockout tie in their history.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes from the win against West Ham at the weekend.
Phil Jones replaced the suspended Luke Shaw. He was joined in the side by Victor Lindelof (who started at right back), Ashley Young, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford as Diogo Dalot, Marcos Rojo, Juan Mata, and Romelu Lukaku stepped down.
And things could have been different for United if they had taken two very presentable chances in the opening seconds of the game.
United had two quick chances to take the lead from within the first 90 seconds when they could have taken the lead through Rashford, who hit the bar, and McTominay, who miscontrolled the ball in the Barca area.
For ten minutes Barca may have been rattled by Solskjaer’s side but they were no mood to be shocked in the Nou Camp.
United escaped an early penalty shout after Barca were awarded a penalty in the 12th minute after Fred appeared to kick Ivan Rakitic.
But after a brief review by German referee Felix Brych the decision was reversed as United used up another of their nine lives.
Barca were outraged but soon scored 4 minutes later after Ashley Young was caught out by Rakitic while trying to do a Cruyff turn on the edge of his own area and Fred’s mistake allowed Lionel Messi to skip into the United area.
Lionel Messi produced another moment of magic with a low left footed shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner after Young failed to clear the ball to score his first goal in a Champions League quarter final since 2013.
The Argentine wizard bent his shot around Chris Smalling to beat David De Gea in a second blow in 4 minutes.
And De Gea’s mistake allowed Messi to double his tally on the night in the 20th minute with a weak effort from 20 yards that went under the diving Spaniard after Fred had lost the ball outside his own area.
Messi blazed over while seeking his 46th Barcelona hat trick with United reeling.
De Gea got his hands to Rakitic’s free header as Barca continued to put the Reds to the sword.
And the Spaniard redeemed himself with a diving save to keep Sergi Roberto’s close range shot after Messi had turned Jones inside out and fed Jordi Alba for a pinpoint cross to the back post.
Jones did recover sufficiently to block Rakitic’s square pass to Luis Suarez in the follow-up as United somehow made it to half time just 2-0 down.
Lionel Messi comes close to a 46th Barcelona hat trick as Manchester United exit the UEFA Champions League at the quarter final stage
The second half didn’t bring much respite for United.
Messi was unceremoniously dumped to the floor after attracting a gaggle of United players as he tried to dance his way past four of them to win a free kick.
United were struggling but Philippe Coutinho put them out of their misery with a stunning curling 23 yard strike into the far corner to make it 3-0 to Barca on the night after Messi picked out Jordi Alba who cut the ball back to the ex-Liverpool man in the 61st minute.
Messi tried an overhead kick but narrowly missed as the crowd willed him to complete his hat trick.
Diogo Dalot came on for Martial in the 65th minute as Solskjaer looked to limit the damage with the Barca crowd in party mood later – singing Ole’s at every touch of the ball from their team.
Lukaku replaced Rashford in the 73rd minute and Alexis Sanchez was given warm applause from the home fans after he replaced Jesse Lingard with 10 minutes to go.
Dalot’s late cross for Sanchez’s flicked header was palmed away by Marc-Andre ter Stegen as there wasn’t even to be a consolation goal for the Reds.
Suarez almost scored a fourth goal for Barca but his chip landed on the roof of the net while Messi’s drive was denied by De Gea.
United’s Champions League campaign was at an end, then, and the long overdue squad overhaul required for Solskjaer will have to be addressed starting this summer after Barca ruthlessly exposed its shortcomings.
The Norwegian’s target in the short term is to qualify for next season’s Champion’s League – no mean feat given the standard of the competition this term.