Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich: Messi magic puts Catalans on verge of Champions League final

first_img1 Lionel Messi once again displayed just why he is regarded as the greatest ever as his fine double saw Barcelona take a huge step towards their first Champions League final in four seasons.The Argentina star beat an in-form Manuel Neuer twice before strike partner Neymar added a third in stoppage-time to seal a 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semi-final tie.Barcelona were the dominant attacking force throughout the Nou Camp clash but looked set to be held by an unmovable Neuer in the Bayern net, Bayern’s saving grace in what was a shambolic defensive display in the opening stages.Pep Guardiola’s injury-hit side started with a back three but reverted back to a four-man defence before the break as Barca completely pulled them apart.In fact, if it weren’t for the German number one, the tie would have been all over as a contest at the halfway point, with the world class keeper making himself big to pull off two miraculous one-on-one saves from Luis Suarez and Dani Alves.However, Barcelona weren’t invulnerable at the back as Bayern went close themselves on 17 minutes when Thomas Muller beat his man on the right and whipped in a cross for Robert Lewandowski, but the Poland star slipped and sliced his stretched effort horribly wide.The visitors looked to have recovered from their appalling start as the break approached, and they continued their upward surge in the second-half, though they struggled to turn their inspired one-touch play into goalscoring opportunities as they failed to register a shot on target.Despite their smaller share of possession, Barcelona were still able to carve out chances, and shot after shot after shot aimed at Neuer eventually took its toll on the World Cup winner, with Messi finally breaking the deadlock on 77 minutes with a powerful shot which beat the giant German at his near post.Guardiola was raging on the touchline, with the goal coming seconds after his side had a penalty appeal waved away, and it only got worse for the manager on his Nou Camp return, as Argentine maestro Messi mustered more magic moments later to double Barca’s lead.The forward made it seem impossibly easy as he drifted past a clumsy Jerome Boateng on the edge of the box before darting inside and lofting an outstanding chip over Neuer and into the net.Suarez then had a chance for a third but perhaps let fly too early as he fired his shot high into the stands, but it mattered little as Neymar put the game to bed with a goal in stoppage-time.Bayern were punished for sending too many men forward, with Messi’s through-ball sending his Brazilian team-mate through one-on-one, and Neymar slotted coolly past Neuer to put the Spanish giants one step closer to a first final since 2011. Barcelona striker Lionel Messi celebrates last_img

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