Watch all the key plays as Barcelona and Liverpool clash in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

By Avi Creditor
May 01, 2019

Barcelona absorbed Liverpool's best punches, then counterpunched with its prized champion.

Lionel Messi's two goals–including the 600th of his Barcelona career that came on a stunning free kick–broke open the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, with Barcelona defeating Liverpool 3-0 at Camp Nou to take a massive advantage heading into the second leg next Tuesday. Luis Suarez opened the scoring against his former club, which had a number of chances to score on the road, only to either be denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen or otherwise.

The two are among the most successful clubs on the continent, with both having won five European titles in their history and finishing as runners-up on three occasions. Barcelona added to its six-year unbeaten streak at Camp Nou in European competition, though, putting all of the pressure on Liverpool to be perfect in its home leg. As for Messi, he now has 26 goals against Premier League clubs, with his brace vs. Liverpool meaning he's now scored against all of the "Big Six," following strikes in his career against Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.

It didn't have to be such a one-sided result, as Liverpool came out in impressive fashion. Mohamed Salah nearly had a chance to give Liverpool a dream start in the second minute, having chance from just inside the box ultimately blocked by Jordi Alba.

Barcelona answered with a chance of its own with the match three minutes old, with Ivan Rakitic trying to cut back for Arturo Vidal inside the box, only to have the pass blocked and put out for a corner.

Messi's first moment of real danger came in the 14th minute. Rakitic picked out Jordi Alba streaking down the left, and the fullback crossed for an on-rushing Messi, who was beaten by a fraction of a second to the ball by Joel Matip.

A Messi foray forward a couple of minutes later also nearly resulted in a goal, with the Argentine eventually being stopped but having the ball fall to Coutinho at the edge of the area. The Brazilian's curling chance was saved well by his countryman, though, with Alisson making the stop.

Liverpool was forced into an early substitution in the 24th minute, with the in-form Naby Keita exiting with an apparent groin injury, replaced by club captain Jordan Henderson, whose omission from the starting lineup was one of the surprises sprung by manager Jurgen Klopp.

The opening goal came from Barcelona soon after. It was Suarez getting the goal against his former team, sliding home a first-time finish after a perfect set-up from Jordi Alba on the left, giving Barcelona a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.

Liverpool had a chance to pull even off a wonderful sequence, with Henderson's early cross dummied by Salah, allowing the ball to sail into the path of a streaking Sadio Mane. The Senegalese star's first-time effort was lofted over the bar, though, after he had gotten in behind Barcelona's defense.

Liverpool came out firing to start the second half and nearly pulled level, with James Milner forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into his first save in the opening two minutes.

Ter Stegen was at it again in the 53rd minute, making a clutch diving save to his right to keep out a sneaky low blast from Salah from long range.

Ter Stegen denied Milner again in the 59th minute, with Georginio Wijnaldum dummying a pass from Salah into Milner's path, only for the Englishman to fire right at the Barcelona goalkeeper.

Liverpool maintained control over the second half but was eventually made to pay for not capitalizing on its possession in the Barcelona end. Against the run of play, Barcelona doubled its advantage. Messi slipped a pass for Sergi Roberto, which was defended but fell for Suarez inside the box. The Uruguayan's attempt to score his second hit off the crossbar, but Messi was there to collect the rebound and touch it home into a vacated net, making it 2-0 Barcelona.

Messi put the tie out of reach minutes later in sensational fashion. Lining up a free kick from 25 yards out, Messi hit the upper left-hand corner, putting it where Alisson couldn't have possibly saved it, scoring the 600th goal of his Barcelona career and giving the hosts a 3-0 lead.

Liverpool nearly pulled one back late, a goal that would've given it hope going back to Anfield, but it somehow failed to score on a double chance, with Firmino coming off the bench and having a clear look cleared off the line, only for Salah to hit the woodwork on the follow, keeping the deficit at three goals.

It should've been 4-0, to be fair, with Barcelona allowed to counter long after the five minutes of stoppage time had expired, but substitute Ousmane Dembele scuffed his completely unmarked chance from inside the box, instead chipping it right into Alisson's gut. Barcelona has an advantage that should render that meaningless, but it does leave the door cracked open for a famous Liverpool comeback.

Here were the lineups for both sides:

The winner of the series will face either Ajax or Tottenham in the Champions League final. Ajax carries a 1-0 lead over Tottenham into the home leg after securing victory in London on Tuesday.

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