Barcelona locked horns with Liverpool in the much anticipated Champions League semifinals and came out victorious by three goals to nil.
The game ebbed and flowed in the first half as both teams were evenly matched. Liverpool showed no nerves for most parts of the first half but were undone by one brilliant move by Barcelona. Jordi Alba found Luis Suarez with an inch-perfect low cross as the Uruguayan met the ball after timing his run to perfection. Sadio Mane got a similar chance but he failed to find the perfect contact, and the home team went in with the lead at half time.
Liverpool looked the better side early on in the second half, and they did everything but score. Messi scored from a rebound against the run of play which knocked the wind out of the English side. The Argentine magician was once again in action as he scored an inch-perfect free kick to give his team a commanding three-goal lead before going to Anfield in a week’s time.
Here is how Valverde’s men fared.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen 8
Made some crucial saves in the second half to keep a clean sheet. Was impressive with his distribution once again.
Gerard Pique 6
Was hassled by Liverpool’s pressing on occasions and gave the ball away cheaply. Made some crucial interception and tackles defensively.
Clement Lenglet 5.5
Was troubled a lot by Salah as he had to cover up for Jordi Alba who was getting caught up high up the pitch.
Jordi Alba 7.5
His assist for the first goal was brilliant. Almost sent in a telepathic pass to Suarez who timed his run to perfection. One of the hardest working players on the pitch as he was constantly running up and down the flanks.
Sergi Roberto 6
Was troubled defensively during some moments but played his part in helping his side to keep a clean sheet.
Sergio Busquets 6
Not at his influential best but did disrupt play and stopped Liverpool attacks on various occasions.
Arturo Vidal 6
Had some poor touches and lunged into some challenges. Better performance in the second half as he was at his usual dogged self.
Ivan Rakitic 7
Went about his business as usual. Linked up play well and did all the nitty-gritty job well when required.
Philippe Coutinho 5
Had one typical attempt early on with his right foot where he tried to bend it past Alisson. Apart from that, never really got into the game and was substituted early.
Lionel Messi 9
His sensational free kick will be the highlight of the day. Liverpool might think they did a good job in keeping him quiet, but the Argentine still came up with a brace. Was always the chief creator in the attacking third.
Luis Suarez 8
A typical charged up performance from the Uruguayan forward. You know he is into his element when he starts having a go at the referee and opposition players. Brilliant touch for the first goal and assisted the second as his shot deflected off the bar to Messi. Earned a yellow card for showing dissent.
Nelson Semedo 6
Played his part in keeping the clean sheet
Ousmane Dembele 3
Could have had Barcelona out of sights before the second leg as he missed some easy chances in the dying minutes.
Carles Alena N/A
Wasn’t involved much after coming on.