Champions League: Messi’s Masterclass Against Liverpool Helps Barca Take Control In Semi-Final

Lionel Messi‘s two second-half goals – including a stunning free-kick – earned Barcelona a handsome advantage and left Liverpool with an almighty task in their Champions League semi-final.

Barca have one foot in next month’s final ahead of Tuesday’s second leg at Anfield after former Reds striker Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead during a breathless opening 45 minutes before Messi struck twice late on, the second a stunning free-kick from around 25 yards out and his 600th goal for the Spanish giants.

Messi has scored 600 goals in 683 games for Barcelona, a staggering record of 0.9 goals per game. His closest challenger, Cesar Rodriguez, hit 232 goals, last playing for Barcelona in 1954.

Liverpool came agonisingly close to a potentially crucial away goal when Roberto Firmino‘s strike was cleared off the line, before Mohamed Salah somehow struck the post rather than scoring with the follow-up.

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele should have put the tie out of the Premier League side’s reach in the closing seconds, but he scuffed it straight at Alisson from a few yards out.

It had been a breathtaking contest befitting two of Europe’s most exhilarating teams. The first half was electric, a reel of chances, breaks and blocks, while the second was tense, a tactical battle where Barca dared Liverpool to over-exert.

The comeback will be even tougher for Liverpool given Barcelona, with La Liga wrapped up, will surely rest a host of players against Celta Vigo this weekend while Liverpool, a point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, will have to be at full throttle again away at Newcastle on Saturday.

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