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Champions League PICS: Messi's Barca in semis; Ronaldo's Juve stunned

Last updated on: April 17, 2019 08:09 IST

IMAGES from the UEFA Champions League quarter-final 2nd leg matches played on Tuesday

FC Barcelona'S Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the first goal against Manchester United at Camp Nou in Barcelona 

IMAGE: FC Barcelona'S Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the first goal against Manchester United at Camp Nou in Barcelona. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Lionel Messi produced another masterful Champions League performance to knock out Manchester United and fire Barcelona into the semi-finals for the first time in four years, scoring twice in a 3-0 home win on Tuesday.

Barca, who toyed with United for the majority of the encounter, sealed a 4-0 aggregate victory and will meet either Porto or Liverpool in the last four.

Messi had failed to score in his last 12 quarter-final appearances, but he settled his side's nerves after a bright start from United, collecting a misplaced pass from Ashley Young and curling into the bottom corner in the 16th minute.

 

The Argentine then pounced on another lapse from United's defence four minutes later to win back possession high up the pitch and fire a shot from outside the box, which squirmed under visiting keeper David de Gea.

Philippe Coutinho finished off a therapeutic win for the Catalans, after three quarter-final failures in a row, by curling into the top corner in the second half.

"This was a spectacular performance, this is what we are all about," Messi told reporters.

"The first five minutes we were a little shy and nervous, perhaps the scoreline gave us a strange feeling, but then we took control of the game."

Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho is challenged by Manchester United's Victor Lindelof 

IMAGE: Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho is challenged by Manchester United's Victor Lindelof. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s greatest night as a player came at the Nou Camp, but after losing the first leg at Old Trafford 1-0, his team needed to become the first side to win a European game there in 31 matches in order to progress.

They clung to the hope of another famous European escape act after last month’s miraculous 3-1 win at Paris St Germain and made a strong start as Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar in the opening stages.

They also survived a scare when a penalty awarded to Barca for an apparent foul by Fred on Ivan Rakitic was overturned after a VAR review.

Yet their hopes were soon extinguished when Young was caught in possession on the left wing and Messi seized the ball, scurrying across the pitch and holding off more United defenders before bending a superb shot past the outstretched De Gea.

The Spanish goalkeeper was left embarrassed for Messi’s second goal as the Argentine's tame shot crept under his body.

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets and Manchester United's Paul Pogba vie for possession  

IMAGE: Barcelona's Sergio Busquets and Manchester United's Paul Pogba vie for possession. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

"We did well to get here but we could see the difference between the two teams. We started well, in the first 15 minutes we thought we could get something here and then they got the two goals," said Solskjaer.

"You know that at this level you cannot slip up and make mistakes and you have to take your chances when you get them. We didn’t capitalise on our great start, then they have their first two shots on target, they get two goals then it's game over."

United looked down and out and Messi nearly dealt them further pain before halftime by sparking another quick break, but this time De Gea thwarted the Catalans, pushing away Sergi Roberto’s shot on the goalline.

De Gea was taunted by Barca fans in the second half, which turned into a procession for the home side and the out-of-form Coutinho turned up the party atmosphere with his sensational strike.

The nearest United came to finding the target after the break was when Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen turned an Alexis Sanchez header around the post late on.

Ajax eliminate Ronaldo's Juve with scintillating display

Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt celebrates teammate Lasse Schone after knocking Juventus out of the UEFA Champions League after their 2-1 win in the quarter-final second leg match at Allianz Stadium in Turin on Tuesday 

IMAGE: Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt celebrates teammate Lasse Schone after knocking out Juventus at Allianz Stadium in Turin. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Ajax Amsterdam followed up their elimination of Real Madrid by producing a spell-binding display of inventive, passing football to win 2-1 away to Juventus on Tuesday and end the Serie A team's dreams of winning the Champions League.

Ajax's 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt headed the winner from the corner in the 67th minute of the quarter-final second leg as the Dutch side came from behind to clinch a 3-2 aggregate win and reach the last four for the first time since 1996/97.

Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming for a fourth successive Champions League title after winning the last three with Real Madrid, put Juventus ahead in the 28th minute with a typically emphatic header, his sixth goal of the competition.

But Donny van de Beek levelled six minutes later before the visitors swept Juventus aside in the second half with wave after wave of attacks as they earned a semi-final against ManchesterCity or Tottenham Hotspur.

"Can we can go on to win the competition? Well, we are in the semi-finals now. And we have eliminated two of the favourites in the last two rounds. The next games will be very difficult, but so were these ones. So who knows?," said De Ligt.

Ajax's Donny van de Beek  celebrates after scoring against Juventus at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy

IMAGE: Ajax's Donny van de Beek celebrates after scoring against Juventus. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Frenkie de Jong added: "We dominated after the break and were well worth our victory. In fact, we probably should have won by more."

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana gave his team an early scare when his clearance was charged down by Emre Can but the rebound flew wide.

Ajax settled well after that but, despite not playing well, Juventus went ahead when Ronaldo got away from the defenders to score the 126th Champions League goal of his career.

There was a long delay for the VAR review, the referee eventually going to the pitchside monitor with the ball back on the centre circle ready for the re-start, before the goal was confirmed.

Ajax kept their cool and took six minutes to level, helped by a somewhat lucky break.

Hakim Ziyech's long-range shot hit a defender and fell perfectly for Van de Beek who, unmarked and onside, slotted the ball calmly past Wojciech Szczesny, and then had to wait for another long VAR check before the goal was confirmed.

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo cuts a frustrated figure during his match against Ajax 

IMAGE: Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo cuts a frustrated figure during his match against Ajax. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Ajax took complete control in the second half and their geometric passing repeatedly opened up the Juventus defence, which sorely missed injured veteran Giorgio Chiellini.

Szczesny made one-handed save from Ziyech after Juventus were opened up again and then turned Van de Beek's curling shot over for a corner.

Juventus were rocking but, ironically, Ajax's winner came from an old-fashioned header as De Ligt outjumped two defenders to score.

Ajax had chances for further goals and Ronaldo's frustration boiled over in stoppage time when he was booked for a lunging tackle from behind near the centre circle.

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