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Messi double puts Barcelona in charge of Champions League semi-final

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1st May, 2019
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Lionel Messi hit the 600-goal mark for Barcelona after scoring twice to lead the Spanish club to a 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring against his former club in the 26th minute against a Liverpool side that spurned a couple of good chances to equalise during a strong spell after the half-time break.

Messi quashed the comeback effort when he doubled the lead from a rebound with 15 minutes left and followed that up by making it 600 career goals for Barcelona by curling in a perfectly struck free kick in the 82nd.

Liverpool dominated long stretches of the match but failed to finish its chances when it had the hosts on their back foot, especially early in the second half.

Mohamed Salah still almost grabbed a valuable away goal for Liverpool late when he hit the post.

Coached by Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona is aiming to replicate the treble of titles it achieved in 2009 under Pep Guardiola and 2015 under Luis Enrique.

It clinched the Spanish league title last weekend and plays Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on May 25.

Liverpool is trying to reach consecutive Champions League finals after losing last season 3-1 to Real Madrid.

Barcelona extended its unbeaten streak at home in Europe’s elite club competition to 32 straight matches, a run that started in 2013.
Just as Liverpool was playing its best and threatening to equalise, Messi settled the match – and possibly the tie.

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His first goal came with a bit of luck after Suarez kneed a volley against the bar and the ball fell straight to Messi, who chested it down and tapped it into an empty net.

The second was spectacular.

After he was fouled by Fabinho outside the area, the Argentine forward struck a swerving, left-foot strike past a diving Alisson and into the corner of the net.

The return leg at Anfield is next Tuesday.