Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool: Messi weaves his magic to see Barca with one foot in the Champions League final 

Sometimes, you have to just sit there and appreciate brilliance. There are not enough superlatives to describe this magician. We truly are blessed to be living in a Lionel Messi world and it will be a sad day when he returns to his own planet of origin. What else can be said with the little guy in the No.10 shirt? To even condone a possibility that enough player has graced the pitch better than Messi is just wrong. Not Pele, not Diego Maradona. No one can compare.

For Liverpool, this was perhaps a cruel reminder of how the competition is played at they highest level. A harsh reality, but an honest one. There is no denying that Jurgen Klopp and his team may feel a little hard done by not thinking they merited a better result. The chances were undoubtedly there and at 1-0, they certainly had enough opportunities to be with a fighting chance in the return leg at Anfield on Tuesday night.

The Red's inability to find a cutting edge has seen this tie all but fall beneath their grasp. At this stage, however, the teams that generally succeed at the highest level are the ones who always find a way to win. Or the ones, in Barcelona's case who are fortunate enough to have a genius in their ranks.

Another mouth-watering display has surely seen Barca with a great big foot in the final in Madrid. Messi's succulent free-kick highlighted what the Argentine is capable of on football biggest occasions. He had already scored six minutes earlier, but, this wasn't enough for such a specimen. He had to add salt to Liverpool's already deepened flesh wounds.

Luis Suarez found an opening against his former club leaving Liverpool with a mountain larger than Everest to reach a second consecutive Champions League final. Realistically though it is difficult to see any way back for Klopp and Co.

Hope will remain though for a squad so tighly unified as Liverpool's. There is still belief Messi can somehow be restrained and the players will be using Barca's calamity against Roma last season as evidence that frailities do exist in this all but perfect team.

Barca still, despite the dominant scoreline looked totally reliant on their talisman for inspiration. At times, the plan seemed to solely revolve around nothing but getting the ball to him, sometimes when he looked like he didn't want it. But this is Messi, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner never looked shy to the challenge.

The story of the match

Klopp will recall occasions where his side showed quality to inflict damage of their own. Mohamed Salah was breathtaking in the first-half, a sensational run from inside his own half typified the Egyptian's quality. He slipped the ball through the legs of Arturo Vidal and set the tone for Liverpool to believe they had the ammunition to hurt Barcelona.

Roberto Firmino's absence was dearly missed despite Georginio Wijnaldum playing with tremendous energy in an unusual forward position. Salah was purposeful with the ball and played with a belief that can illuminate the biggest occasions and, if he plays with similar purpose next Tuesday then Liverpool will believe that goals are possible in the second-leg.

Sadio Mane could be held accountable for squandering the best presented opportunity after aiming a glorious chance over the bar, having run clear on goal.

In truth, Barca's Plan A toppled Liverpool's intensity. Find Messi was the system and find him they did. After putting Andy Robertson through the wringer in the opening 45 minutes before decieving Fabinho and forcing James Milner to try and stop the forward similarly to his previous assignment at the Nou Camp with Manchester City four years ago.

It was to no surprise that Milner wasn't taking any chances and a firm shoulder barge to send Messi into touch epitomised the presence that the Argentian carries into every match.

Messi appeared to be constantly involved and it was a major surprise that he didn't play a major part in Suarez' first ever goal against his former team. Vidal switched a diagonal pass from right to left. Philippe Coutinho - also featuring against his former side - turned the ball towards Jordi Alba who whipped a sublime pass that decieved both Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip allowing Suarez to steer in with the all-but decisive touch.

It was a clever move from Liverpool's former hero. The Uruguayan had to be alert to danger to catch out PFA Player of the Year Van Dijk causing Suarez to slide past the Dutchman and poke the cross past Alisson.

Klopp may be regretting his decision to hand Joe Gomez his first start since December 2018 after fracturing his leg against Burnley and will likely recall Trent alexander-Arnold in the return leg.

Liverpool also lost Naby Keita following a heavy challenge from Ivan Rakitic, which forced club-captain Jordan Henderson to play to majority of the match.

The real question in the opening half was whether Suarez would celebrate against the club that used to sing his name? Did he celebrate? What do you think? He is a born winner and the emotion following his goal captured that superbly. Suarez is wired to succeed and had no time to find sentiment towards his former team. He is hunting for his second treble in Bacra colours and it felt so so close in 75th minute when the hosts doubled their lead.

It was Messi's run that sparked more panic from Liverpool and Fabinho's challenge turned the ball into Sergio Roberto's path abd when the ball ricocheted towards Suarez his knee sent the ball crashing towards the crossbar but Messi was instinctive to follow up the rebound.

His free-kick came next, and by then the dictionary had run out of phrases to describe such a sorcerer. It was utterly magnificent and and when Salah struck the post late on it reflected a night that just ran away from Liverpool and Klopp.