Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to victory in a pulsating Champions League semifinal first leg against Liverpool. A magical night marked a landmark moment in the Argentine's glittering career.
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool
(Suarez 26', Messi 75', 82')
His brilliance is undeniable. Lionel Messi dazzled and delighted in equal measure as Barcelona secured a sizeable advantage in their Champions League semifinal tie with Liverpool.
The Spanish giants will take a 3-0 lead into the reverse leg at Anfield in a week's time, but Wednesday's evenings encounter with be remembered for the 600th goal of an astonishing career with the Catalans.
The first leg in Barcelona was a live wire encounter played at a frantic pace. Where moments of individual brilliance were blended in with a dynamic tactical approach to decide a European encounter played at the highest level between two sides of immense quality.
It was the kind of fixture which allowed Messi's delicate dynamism to thrive. Whether it was producing sublime flicks on the sidelines to release the Liverpool press or riding countless challenges to keep his side in motion, the Argentine was a riddle the Reds, like so many sides before them, couldn't solve.
Luis Suarez looked set to steal the show after coming back to haunt his former side, ghosting in between Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk to convert Jordi Alba's scything delivery. His first Champions League goal of the season proved the difference at the break following a captivating first half.
In a game that was always going to be decided by fine margins, German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced three key saves to prevent Liverpool capitalizing on their most promising period of play soon after the restart.
However, with the visitors threatening to grab what would have been a vital away goal, it was Messi who provided two killer blows to Liverpool's hopes of reaching back-to-back finals at Europe's top table.
After Suarez rattled the woodwork at the end of a sweeping Barcelona counter attack, the Argentine was on hand to walk the ball across the line with Liverpool's backline prostrate for the host's second of the evening.
Messi's second was a landmark moment — the 600th goal of a glittering career which was a thing of beauty — a pin-point accurate free-kick that found the top corner and put the icing on the cake of a mesmeric performance.