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Three things we learned from Barcelona’s win over Manchester United

Barca are into the Champions League semi-finals

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Messi ends quarter-final drought

Lionel Messi took on Manchester United having not scored in a Champions League quarter-final since 2013, yet there was always a feeling he’d end that drought against the Red Devils.

And end it he duly did in some style with a terrific opener after the visitors had started well and caused Barcelona a few problems.

The skipper went past Ashley Young and Fred and then curled a beautiful shot past David de Gea on 16 minutes.

He added a second four minutes later too for good measure. This time it was a shot with his right foot that squirmed through De Gea’s grasp, a moment the United stopper will want to forget.

The goals set Barcelona up for a comfortable win and a place in the semi-finals where a meeting with another English team, Liverpool, looks to be on the cards.

Liverpool will provide a far sterner challenge than Manchester United mustered over the two legs, but with Messi in this kind of mood Barcelona will not lack for confidence.

Coutinho rewards Valverde’s patience

Ernesto Valverde must have been tempted to bring in Ousmane Dembele for Philippe Coutinho for this game, but he opted to keep faith with the Brazilian once again.

To be fair Coutinho has looked livelier in recent weeks, but his goal should do wonders for his confidence after a difficult first full season at Barcelona.

Coutinho’s celebration was also telling. The 26-year-old stuck his fingers in his ears, surely a message to his critics and also those United fans who booed him in the first leg.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has said this week Coutinho is “getting better and better” and that he “will continue” at the club despite all the speculation suggesting he’s set for a summer exit

Of course one goal does not change everything, but Coutinho’s superb strike against Manchester United could yet prove to be a turning point for the Brazilian.

Barcelona secure first semi-final spot since 2015

Barcelona’s win took them another step closer to the trophy they want above all others, as Ernesto Valverde’s side made it into the last four since 2015.

This is the first time since they last won the title they’ve made it this far, and with a nine-point lead in La Liga Barcelona can really focus all their energies on Europe’s top competition.

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

A semi-final against Liverpool looks to be up next, unless Porto produce an amazing comeback, and the Premier League leaders tend to save their best for the Champions League.

Last year’s beaten finalists will be hoping to go one better this time around, and in Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have the attacking talent to cause real problems.

Of course Liverpool are also embroiled in a tense and tight title race with Manchester City, which could have an impact on the two ties.

The other side of the draw has also opened up after Ajax pulled off another shock and knocked out Juventus. They go on to play Manchester City or Tottenham, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side 1-0 up from the first leg.

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