Barcelona made sure that Manchester United wouldn't enjoy another famous Champions League comeback at its hallowed Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, and Philippe Coutinho added an exclamation point with a 61st-minute stunner, as Barcelona advanced to the Champions League semifinals at Man United's expense after a 3-0 win on the day and 4-0 aggregate triumph.
It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's stoppage-time goal in the final against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in 1999 that claimed the European trophy for Man United, but the times, opponent and stakes are all different this time around. Twenty years later, Solskjaer, now the Man United manager, couldn't contain Messi for a second straight match and couldn't guide an effort that snapped Barcelona's home unbeaten streak in the Champions League, which now sits at 31 games.
Despite what followed, Manchester United actually started brightly and nearly scored in the opening minute through Marcus Rashford. The visitors possessed off the opening kickoff and worked a sharp combination down the left-hand side, with Rashford being played in behind but only able to lift his chance off the crossbar after 32 seconds.
The bright start continued for Man United, with Scott McTominay finding himself open with a chance at the top of the box, only for a wayward touch to ruin his chance. Miscommunication in the back a few minutes later nearly gifted Jesse Lingard a look from in close, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen did enough to scramble and clear the ball from deep in his box as Barcelona wobbled through the early stages.
Barcelona though it had won a penalty in the 10th minute, with Ivan Rakitic bursting into the box to try and win the ball. Fred appeared to cleat Rakitic's shin and also trip the Croatian, which prompted referee Felix Brych to point to the penalty spot. After a VAR review, Brych changed the call to no foul, apparently seeing that Fred had gotten the ball first.
Messi took matters into his own feet minutes later to pad Barcelona's advantage anyway. The Argentine superstar curled a low, long-range, left-footed shot by a helpless David De Gea, giving Barcelona a 1-0 lead on the day and 2-0 on aggregate in the 16th minute.
Messi doubled his tally for the day four minutes later, with plenty of help from De Gea. Messi put a speculative chance on goal from long distance, and De Gea had it lined up, only to have the ball squeeze through his grasp and trickle into the goal, creating an even steeper mountain for Man United to climb.
That second goal seemed to deflate Man United while at the same time giving Barcelona complete control. Messi had a chance to complete his hat trick, but he fired well high on a left-sided angle. Meanwhile, every time De Gea had to make a play on the ball, he drew jeers from the Barcelona faithful, eager to remind him of his earlier gaffe.
It could've been even worse if not for a tremendous De Gea save on the stroke of halftime. An attack sparked by Messi in the midfield–where he absolutely toyed with Phil Jones–resulted with Sergi Roberto having a wide-open look from a right-sided angle, only for the Barcelona right back to fire right at De Gea's face, which kept the ball out.
Barcelona put the series to bed just after the hour mark. It came through Coutinho, who scored a right-footed, curling stunner to beat De Gea and extend the advantage to 3-0 on the day and 4-0 on aggregate. Coutinho, an oft-criticized player at Barcelona, was defiant in his goal celebration, plugging his ears as if to show the supporters he shouldn't hear their complaints anymore.
Messi almost completed his hat trick in sensational fashion soon after, with the Argentine attempting a bicycle kick from inside the area and missing just inches to the left of the post.
The match largely petered out from there, with maligned Man United forward Alexis Sanchez getting a chance to face his former team–and nearly scoring on a 90th-minute header–and Coutinho getting a rousing ovation as he was subbed off for Barcelona, which moves on to the final four. As for Man United, its return to the competition next season will depend on its ability to finish in the top four in England, as winning the Champions League and returning as the reigning king is off the table.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
Barcelona will face either Liverpool or Porto in the semifinals. Liverpool carries a 2-0 edge over its Portuguese opponent entering Wednesday's second leg.