Football can be a cruel game at times, especially when you are coming up against the bearded demi-god that is Lionel Messi.
On another day, Liverpool might have claimed an impressive result away at Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday, one that would have given them a real chance of meeting Ajax or Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano.
James Milner, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah all had clear chances to grab a vital away goal at the Camp Nou. But while they fluffed their lines, Messi did precisely the opposite.
After former Anfield hero Luis Suarez had given Barca a narrow first-half lead, the little number ten came to the fore with a majestic performance after the interval. After tapping home the second, he thumped a glorious free-kick into the top corner – even the exceptional Alisson Becker had no answer.
Messi, then, made the Man of the Match award a formality. Unsurprisingly, the watching world rated Messi as the best player on the pitch in ratings provided by the public on the BBC website.
Liverpool right-back Joe Gomez, however, who struggled to deal with rampaging Jordi Alba, was handed a mark of just 4/10. As was Gini Wijnaldum, who’s role as an unfamiliar false nine failed to pay dividends.
They, and every other Liverpool player, will have to do far better if they are to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
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