Lionel Messi's inspired second-half performance has given Liverpool a 3-0 mountain to climb in the second leg at Anfield next week.
The stats show that The Reds need to rectify their away form if they want to challenge for major honours but it could have been so different at the Nou Camp last night.
Liverpool was on top of the contest for the majority of the first half, Luis Suarez' brilliant goal aside, but Messi's second-half virtuoso performance left them with regrets. Messi showed two sides to his game, first with a poacher's finish to score after Suarez his the crossbar, and then he had the Nou Camp in raptures as they chanted his name after a staggering swerving free-kick that left Alisson stranded.
Liverpool chances 😪
The Reds came close to an away goal that their performance would have merited when substitute Roberto Firmino's strike was cleared off the line by Ivan Rakitic, and Mo Salah struck the crossbar from the follow-up with the goal at his mercy. Liverpool probed constantly in the first half before Suarez's opener in the 26th minute.
Liverpool's dominance continued into the opening stages of the second half when Barcelona had the excellent Marc Andre ter Stegen to thank after the German keeper denied James Milner from a one-on-one at full-stretch. He also denied Mohamed Salah with a low right-handed stop from a Mo Salah drive.
Sadio Mane also shot well over from eight yards, a highly presentable chance for a man in his goal-scoring form.
That being said, Barcelona could have put the tie out of sight when Ousmane Dembele missed a one-on-one of his own in the dying seconds after a Lionel Messi pass.
Barcelona at their fluid best⚡️
The frontline of Messi, Suarez & Coutinho constantly interchanged and played with chemistry and that gave Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip a difficult night.
Ernesto Valverde's side also showed more resoluteness in their defending after struggling at times against Manchester United in the previous round. That's now seven clean sheets in their last eight outings.
Luis Suarez's opener was a thing of beauty, latching on to a fizzed cross from Jordi Alba (who now has five assists in the Champions League this season) to instinctively poke home from close range. This was exactly what Barca needed after soaking up a period of Liverpool pressure.
Messi's 599th and 600th goals were completely different but both outlined the magical Argentine's importance to his club. An instinctive poacher's finish was followed up by another miraculous Messi masterclass from a free kick.
Ousmane Dembele should have put the tie completely beyond the Reds but, like Mane, lacked accuracy with the goal in front of him.
Bad day at the office for Liverpool - the stats 📊
- Messi scored his 600th Barcelona goal, 14 years to the day since he scored his first against Albacete in May 2005.
- Barcelona extended their record Champions League run of 32 home matches without defeat (W29 D3 L0), with this their first home win over Liverpool in European competition at the fifth attempt.
- Liverpool suffered their joint-heaviest Champions League defeat, also losing 0-3 to Real Madrid in October 2014.
- The Reds have lost the away leg of their past six major European semi-finals, four of which have been in the Champions League (previously 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2017-18).
- Barcelona (502) became the second team to score 500 Champions League goals, after Real Madrid (551).
- Only former Real striker Raul (33) has scored against more different Champions League opponents than Messi (32), scoring his first goal in his third appearance against Liverpool.
- Messi has scored eight free-kicks this season - twice as many as any other player in the top five European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).
Read more: Barcelona 3-0 - how we rated the players
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