If there were any illusions, Manchester United now knows how far they have to travel under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The gap that exists, and the elite of the European game.
A panicky opening aside, this was just as comfortable as the score suggests, the game never hesitates after 20 minutes, Barcelona and Lionel Messi superior, the weakness in this United group uncovered heartlessly. When Alexis Sanchez started 11 minutes with a warm welcome, it was a memory.
The player that United broke the bank to recruit is essentially a Barcelona addiction. Those who are good enough to make it to Nou Camp will not leave for Old Trafford soon. Barcelona is home to the best in a way that Manchester United has not been for a while.
Lionel Messi can't stop smiling after giving Barcelona a two-goal lead after just 20 minutes at the Nou Camp
The Argentinian flipped over to the edge of the Manchester United box and sent a rather tame shot on goal
Messi's shot, however, slid through David de Gea's grasp to give the Catalan giants their second goal of the game
United & # 39; s Spanish goalkeeper thinks about making a rare mistake to give Barcelona their second goal at the Nou Camp
COMPETITION FACTS, PLAYER FIGURES AND COMPETITION ZONE
BARCELONA: (4-3-3) Ter Stegen 6.5; Sergi Roberto 6 (Nelson Semedo 71, 6), Pique 7, Lenglet 6.5, Jordi Alba 7; Rakitic 7, Sergio Busquets 7Arthur 7 (Vidal 75, 6); Messi 9Suarez 7, Coutinho 7 (Dembele 81)
SUBS NOT USED: Cillessen (GK); Malcom, Umtiti, Alena
GOALS: Messi (16, 20), Coutinho (61)
Bookings: Suarez (77)
TRAINER: Ernesto Valverde 8
MANCHESTER UNITED: (4-3-3) De Gea 4.5; Jones 5Lindelof 5.5, Smalling 5, Young 5; McTominay 6, Fred 4.5, Pogba 5.5; Lingard 5.5 (Sanchez 80), Rashford 6.5 (Lukaku 73, 6), Martial Fight 4.5 (Dalot 65, 6)
SUBS NOT USED: Romero (GK); Mata, Andreas Pereira, Matic
TRAINER: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 6
REFEREE: Felix Brych (Germany) 7
MAN OF THE COMPETITION: Lionel Messi
LOCATION: Well, Camp
* Ratings done by Chris Wheeler
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Lionel Messi breaks the stalemate with a magnificent solo effort by shooting a shot with a left in the bottom of the net
Philippe Coutinho (No. 7) demonstrably scores the goal of the game after completing a well-worked Barcelona move with a long-distance effort to make it 3-0
Since April 2013, Messi has not yet scored in the quarterfinals of this competition against Paris St Germain – although he has had 50 shots – but he made it up here.
As for Philippe Coutinho, all the thoughts he may have reason to regret his move from Liverpool will be countered by nights like this – and the goal that the scoreline emphasized that it deserved.
Messi played a long crossfield ball from deep in his own half to Jordi Alba, who found Coutinho on the lap inside. He again cut to the center and hit a delightfully curved shot, high and over the reach of David De Gea.
If Barcelona was disappointing at Old Trafford, this victory and the 4-0 overall outcome are a reminder of the standards they continue to set. Standards that United can only dream of reaching now.
The problem for Manchester United was that everything was on their side, but the only thing that matters the most: quality.
Messi blows a kiss in the gallery at the Nou Camp after breaking the deadlock with a brilliant solo effort
The Barca-talisman noted United Midfielder Fred before sending a bad shot with the left bottom left corner
Messi watches his shot nestle into De Gea's net and the Spaniard is unable to hit the ball
Messi (left) celebrates with Philippe Coutinho (right) after the Argentinian gave Barcelona an early lead on Tuesday
They had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the wheel, they had their history in this big stadium and the night it gave them in 1999, they had the mythology that this season has built around their transformation, the comeback in Paris and the idea that this is their could be year, as it was for Chelsea and their unlikely steward, Roberto Di Matteo, in 2012.
A problem with that. They couldn't live with Barcelona after a sparkling first two minutes. In that period, United surprised their hosts, hit the bar and fumbled a second good chance. Was one of those opportunities in, who knows?
The fact is that they did not and Barcelona is not the type of team that makes mistakes slide in front of the goal. Take yours because you are sure they will get theirs. Well, enough of them, anyway. If Barcelona were to take every chance that came their way, they would have goal differences in the hundreds every season.
So when Marcus Rashford broke through after just 35 seconds and tried a hybrid chip instead of a solid low finish, Marc-Andre ter Stegen cut the bar, he immediately thought it could be a crucial moment. Similarly the pass that Scott McTominay immediately found in a ridiculous amount of space.
The ball got caught under his feet and the danger disappeared; and with that the hope of Manchester United. When Barcelona first scored, they were satisfied with the knowledge that the mission had not changed: they had to score twice to make progress, as at the start.
Coutinho made it 3-0 with a fantastic long-distance effort, as De Gea was defeated and ended up in the net of United
The former Liverpool player hit his attempt from outside the rectangle that flew into the upper right corner of the goal
Coutinho is congratulated by his Barcelona teammates after scoring their third goal of the night and the fourth of the score
The Brazilian celebrates with a finger to the crowd while Rashford (right) waits to restart the game
The second, however, was a murderer. Now United needed three in Nou Camp, against a team that had not lost a first stage lead in the European league since he succumbed to Metz in the 1984-85 European Cup-Winners Cup. And there was nothing more than those first two minutes that suggested they had it.
It was not only the mistakes that led to the goals that emphasized the difference here. United broke through in the ninth minute. The ball fell on Paul Pogba near the center circle: and he shot on goal.
Would a Barcelona player have tried such a wonderful piece of pleasure? The ball flew high and harmlessly over the bar, the recovery of ter Stegen is never doubtful. It wasn't the action of a player who thought of his team – and Barcelona is first and foremost a team. A very, very good team.
With a very special person, of course. Yet Lionel Messi never plays as if the event is about him, even though his genius often makes it that way. He does not do it alone, if a teammate is better placed, he does not always occupy position A. And yet, while serving a deep lie, he is on average better than a goal and a match this season. Unbelievable.
First, United had to survive a penalty call before the Messi show. Fred stepped in and sent Ivan Rakitic rolling, rolling, rolling, like a ball on a downward slope to Augusta National.
By the time the Croatian came to rest, Referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot. At that moment VAR did his thing and Brych trotted to see confirmation of his judgment. And he did a good thing.
Ivan Rakitic (center) drops in the United Box under the challenge of Fred (right) in the first half
Match official Felix Brych points to the penalty spot after considering Fred & # 39; s challenge as a foul in the area
United players surround the German referee after he has awarded Barcelona a penalty in the first half
After being advised to review VAR's decision, Brych reviews the incident again at the side of the field
After reviewing repetitions of the incident, Brych cancels his original decision and signals that no penalty has been awarded
The first time the equipment was viewed looked good, in the second it looked like an error, but a close-up of Fred & # 39; s foot when he showed his challenge showed that he won the ball. No punishment. Justice done. Not that it mattered; within ten minutes United was 2-0 behind.
The first goal started when Ashley Young stepped into a jumble that brought the ball to Messi. The pair had shaken hands as respective captains for the competition and one can only hope that Young made the best of the benign nature of that moment. His other agreements with the player were harder to say the least.
Messi defeated Fred and slipped past Phil Jones, who appeared to be wounded with his white plaster headband, probably to save time. He formed to shoot and Chris Smalling put his arms behind his back to guard against handball.
He doesn't have to worry; Messi does not hit it so close to obstacles that it is a problem. He curled it sweetly out of the reach of David De Gea. There was nothing the best keeper could do in the English game. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the second goal.
Messi came close to grabbing his hat trick, but his overhead kick went wide as Suarez tried to get out of the way
Marcus Rashford came close to breaking the deadlock within 60 seconds after his shot hit the crossbar
Paul Pogba acknowledges the match official after being arrested in the first half for a foul on Arthur
The fault lies with De Gea, but problems start for United when Fred tries to run a Cruijff dangerously close to his own penalty area.
Frankly, Cruyff would not have tried a Cruyff turn in that position – and he knew how to do it. So Fred lost the ball to Messi, who left Jones again in a different zip code and hit the ball low.
It was not his best attempt and should have been stopped easily, but the often infallible De Gea made demonstrably his biggest mistake since his first season in English football. His weakness was then crosses and the physicality of the English, but no apologies here.
This was a simple photo and the ball rolled terribly under De Gea's body. After the break, he appeared again to find the Barcelona fan who knelt with apparent admiration. Real Madrid will undoubtedly have looked. A sobering night around.
Scott McTominay (left) tries to get Barcelona center back Clement Lenglet (right) during their clash at the Nou Camp
Luis Suarez blows past United & # 39; s Brazilian defender Fred during the opening stages of the second leg at the Nou Camp
Pogba is knocked down by Rakitic (right), because United had everything to do in the first half of their second leg in Spain