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Liverpool need 2nd-leg miracle after Messi inspires huge Barcelona win

Barcelona took control of their Champions League semifinal meeting with Liverpool via a 3-0 victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Former Reds forward Luis Suarez latched onto an excellent Jordi Alba delivery in the opening stanza to put La Blaugrana ahead before Lionel Messi scored twice – the second of which was an astonishing free-kick and his 600th club goal – following a prolonged spell of second-half pressure from the visitors.

Liverpool have it all to do, even though they were arguably the better team through most of the first leg.

In the post-mortem from the Scousers’ loss, Jurgen Klopp’s decision to field Georginio Wijnaldum as the focal point of his attacking three will be picked at. The Dutch midfielder didn’t muster a shot and failed to draw a foul over 78 minutes attempting to impersonate Roberto Firmino.

Barcelona, just as they have for the majority of the campaign, relied on Messi. There probably isn’t a better tactic in football. His brace – bundling the ball over the line after Suarez hit the crossbar, and then that free-kick – happened in the space of seven minutes and after Barca had absorbed a sustained push from the Premier League side.

John Powell / Liverpool FC / Getty

Before the 75th minute, Liverpool had hope: a 1-0 defeat in Catalonia was a decent result. By the 82nd minute, the Reds had sunk into a state of utter despair.

The reverse fixture is contested in Liverpool next Tuesday. Anfield has hosted some memorable European nights in the past, but it will require a miracle on Merseyside to turn this one around.

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