POST MATCH: Messi inspired-Barcelona storm past Liverpool in Champions League semi final

Lionel Messi was once again the hero as Barcelona took a huge step towards the Champions League final with a 3-0 semi final first leg win over Liverpool.

Following a blockbuster build up to the last four meeting between La Liga's newly crowned champions and Jurgen Klopp's title chasers, both side lived up to expectations in a frantic opening 25 minutes. 

The visitors looking to cause problems for the Catalan back line with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane both coming close to breaking the deadlock, while Alisson was forced into saves from Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho at the other end.

However it was Suarez that made the key difference on 26 minutes, stealing in between Joel Matip and Virgil Van Dijk to slot home from Jordi Alba's brilliant cross. 

Klopp's side reacted well, and Mane should have equalised just before the break, but the Sengalese international ballooned an effort over the bar from skipper Jordan Henderson's incisive ball in.

The visitors continued to up the tempo after the break, with James Milner and Salaha both wasting great chances to get back on level terms, with Marc Ter Stegen in fine form for Barcelona.

With Liverpool unable to find the killer blow, it was left to Messi to ensure that Barcelona would kill off the tie.

Despite a relatively quiet game by his own high standards, he burs into life on 76 minutes to make it 2-0 – reacting first to Suarez's effort which came back off the bar – to scramble the ball over the line.

But ever the player for the big occasion, his 600th for the club was to be one of his best, with ten minutes remaining, the Argentine international was fouled on the edge of the area by Liverpool's Fabinho.

He picked himself up to curl a sensational free kick past Alisson to extend La Blaugrana's lead to three goals – and virtually extinguish Liverpool's hopes of a second successive final.

Salah did have a great chance to snatch a vital away goal, after Ter Stegen parried Mane's effort into his path – but the Egyptian could only fire against the post.

Tags Lionel Messi Liverpool