Messi and Coutinho on target as Barça blow away Man United
The Catalans have qualified for their eighth Champions League semi-final in the last 12 seasons
After a thoroughly professional performance, Barça sailed into their eighth Champions League semi-final in 12 years where they’ll meet either Liverpool or Porto.
A cacophony of noise greeted both sets of players at the Camp Nou, with Manchester United taking the initiative from the whistle. Marcus Rashford and Luis Suárez had already exchanged chances in the opening five minutes before the game settled into a familiar pattern.
Barça were denied a penalty on 11 minutes after the intervention of VAR, but just four minutes later, Lionel Messi, in his 133rd Champions League game which made him the second most capped in the competition for the Catalans ahead of Andrés Iniesta, picked the ball up outside the area and went past two players before arrowing the ball into the bottom corner.
The Argentinian then doubled the lead with a right-footed shot, his 24th against an English side in the competition, after a mistake from David De Gea. The Spaniard allowed the ball to squeeze under his body, putting the hosts 3-0 up on aggregate.
Barça continued to control possession and the rhythm of the game, rarely allowing United a sight of goal. It was the Blaugrana that finished the half the stronger and on the attack, with De Gea somehow keeping out a point-blank Sergi Roberto shot to redeem his earlier error.
But for an Ashley Young block soon after the restart, Messi might well have had a hat-trick. The Blaugrana pressed high and closed down the spaces that United were hoping to expose.
By the hour mark, much of the game was concentrated in the central areas, the hosts content to bide their time whilst ensuring that the visitors covered every blade of grass in order to win the ball back.
Philippe Coutinho then killed off the tie as a contest when he unleashed a rocket into the top corner that De Gea could do nothing about.
The best that United could muster in the last half hour was a long-range effort from Jesse Lingard that was high and wide of Marc-André ter Stegen’s goal, and a flying header in the last minute from Alexis Sánchez, that was expertly saved by the German.