Lionel Messi was the difference against Manchester United

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed the influence of Lionel Messi after Manchester United’s sobering 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Camp Nou.

The visitors began the game brightly, carving out three good chances, until Messi took advantage of an error by Ashley Young, nutmegged Fred, and whipped the ball past David de Gea on 15 minutes.

Moments later he launched another shot, this time with his right foot, which miserably dribbled under De Gea. The tone was set for a night of Messi toying around with the pink shirts in front of him.

Speaking after the game, Solskjaer lauded the alien-like brilliance of the little magician.

Over the years, I have watched countless games of football played at the Camp Nou. They take a very similar form: Barcelona have the ball, the other team runs around the ball, quick passing triangle on the edge of the box, and Messi scores, scores again, sets up a goal or two, and then the game ends, usually 4 or 5 goals in Barcelona’s favour. The luscious green of that big pitch. Those high-pitched horns. The echoing of the stadium. “Messi, Messi, Messi!”. Any football fan knows the sight.

On this occasion, though, the team getting put through the Nou Camp mincer was my team, Manchester United.

In a way, though, that was the only unique aspect of this latest episode of ‘Messi Doing Nasty Things To Helpless Teams at the Camp Nou’. It doesn’t matter if you are Real Madrid, Lyon, or Huesca. If Messi fancies it – and he really fancied it tonight – there is very little to be done.

United, for all their global outreach, were reduced to the role of cannon fodder.









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