Magical Messi’s double leaves Liverpool on the brink

Lionel Messi, Golden Shoe, Kylian Mbappe, FC Barcelona, European leagues,
Messi won the trophy for a third straight year after scoring 36 goals, three more than his closest challenger, Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain. File Photo: PTI

Lionel Messi left Liverpool needing a miracle to reach their second Champions League final in as many years as his brace helped Barcelona win a pulsating Champions League semi-final first leg 3-0 on Wednesday (May 1).

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

Jurgen Klopp could only smile after Messi’s curling shot nestled in the top corner but this result was harsh on his side. They matched Barcelona in the first half, dominated them early in the second and could still have left with an away goal after Messi’s deadly double, only for Mohamed Salah to hit the post.

But Messi and Suarez did what they have done all season, their tallies now at 47 and 27 goals respectively in all competitions. 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 them 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.