Barcelona beat a spirited Liverpool side 3-0 in the first-leg of the Champions League Semi-Final at the Camp Nou on Wednesday May 1st. A first-half goal from Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead before a stunning second-half brace by Lionel Messi secured a three-goal cushion for the Spanish champions heading into the second-leg. The Premier League side will feel that the result was harsh on them after they controlled large parts of the game.
The match started at a frantic pace with both sides creating openings but lacking the final ball. A brilliantly timed tackled from Andrew Robertson denied Messi a shot on goal from Jordi Alba’s cutback in the 13th minute. As Liverpool countered, Mo Salah’s through ball to Sadio Mane was cut out by a brilliant intervention by Sergi Roberto.
Barca took the lead just before the half hour mark. Alba’s low cross was toe-poked into the net by Suarez as the Uruguayan struck first against his former club. Soon after, a last-ditch tackle by Fabinho denied Phillippe Coutinho a shot on goal as the hosts started to dominate.
Liverpool’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute. Jordan Henderson’s through ball put Mane through on goal, but the Senegalese forward disappointingly shot over the bar.
The English side started the second-half strongly as James Milner had a shot saved by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Soon after, Salah’s fierce low shot was tipped round the post by the German goalkeeper.
The away side were playing fantastic football and, just before the hour mark, Salah beautifully controlled a long ball before picking out Milner in the penalty area, who shot straight at Ter Stegen.
The Reds were soon punished for their missed chances in the 74th minute. Messi drove at the Liverpool defence before a tackle by Fabinho deflected the ball into the path of Suarez. The shot came off the crossbar before being chested over the line by the Barcelona captain.
In the 80th minute, the Argentinian star curled in a stunning free-kick for his second goal of the game and his 600th goal for the club. The visitors were so close to getting an away goal minutes later but substitute Roberto Firmino’s shot was cleared off the line by Ivan Rakitic before Salah’s rebound came off the post.
In stoppage time, the Catalan side countered from a Liverpool corner as Messi squared the ball for substitute Ousmane Dembele right in front of goal. But the French forward shot straight at goalkeeper Allison for the last kick of the game. The two sides are set to meet for the second-leg at Anfield on Tuesday May 7th.
Reuters reported that Liverpool head coach, Jurgen Klopp, praised his side’s performance but rued the result. "Football is like this. It is about scoring goals and they scored three and we scored none but the performance was really good. The boys played a super game to be honest but against a side like Barcelona, a few moments are enough to give them the opportunity,” he said. "What can I say? I am really happy with the performance but of course not too happy with the result. We have to take that; that’s football and we know that. You don’t get grades, only a hard result and we have to accept that."
Reuters reported that Barcelona Head Coach, Ernesto Valverde, said his side rested on their laurels in the second-leg. "We won't go there with precautions but experience must count for something. We saw how Liverpool manage games and the pace with which they play, and we cannot forget that we can't afford to feel extra confident. The tie is still open and we haven't got through yet."