A moment of magic from Lionel Messi after Luis Suarez opened the scoring against former side Liverpool helped Barcelona to an emphatic 3-0 victory in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
The Reds suffered an early blow in the 21st minute when Naby Keita limped off with an apparent groin problem, and was replaced by captain Jordan Henderson.
Two minutes after that substitution was made and Barcelona were ahead when Jordi Alba sent a wonderful ball into the box and Suarez beat the offside trap to guide a lovely finish beyond Alisson.
Liverpool were on top in the second half but against the run-of-play, Messi doubled Barca’s advantage after Suarez struck the crossbar
And then the Argentine added his second of the night with a sizzling long-range free-kick, sending his effort into the top corner to leave Alisson with no chance.
Here are 6 talking points from an entertaining encounter at the Nou Camp…
1. Suarez isn’t one for muted celebrations
What a time for Suarez to score his first Champions League goal of the campaign, eh?
By his own standards, the Uruguay star has endured somewhat of a stop-start season, but he reminded us of his undoubted qualities on Wednesday night.
It was a wonderful goal, Suarez timing his run wonderfully to get on the end of Alba’s inch-perfect cross and poke home past the helpless Alisson.
The fact it was against his former team obviously made it even better, the striker emphatically wheeling away before sliding on his knees.
Not exactly a muted celebration against his former employers…
2. Van Dijk slammed for ‘criminal’ positioning
Fresh from winning the PFA Player of the Year award, Virgil van Dijk would have been keen to prove his ability on the biggest stage of them all.
But he endured a tough time at the Nou Camp, seemingly struggling to deal with Barcelona’s blistering attack in the first half.
And Rio Ferdinand didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Dutch defender at half-time, blaming him for Suarez’s goal.
He said: “Virgil van Dijk here, he is at fault, he can see Suarez there, he is pointing where he wants it. It’s not rocket science. It’s right in front of him.
“That’s your man, the number nine on the back of his shirt, static. Virgil van Dijk there, static. And that’s criminal in that position.”
3. Magnificent Messi
Lionel Messi has enjoyed some career, and the Argentine superstar achieved another two milestones on Wednesday night.
This Champions League showdown marked his 100th start as Barcelona’s captain, a remarkable achievement for a remarkable player.
And it was another performance we’ve become accustomed to seeing, with the Argentine scoring a stunning second-half brace to leave Liverpool with a huge mountain to climb.
We saw a different side to his game in the first half, the Argentine showing theatrics when James Milner clashed into him, Messi needlessly rolling around on the touchline before giving a cheeky smile to the television cameras.
But he delivered a masterclass in the second half, being in the right place at the right time to score his first before netting a spectacular free-kick to score his 600th goal for Barcelona.
4. Jurgen Klopp’s bold line-up
Liverpool were dealt a blow ahead of this Champions League showdown when Roberto Firmino was deemed only fit enough for the bench.
The Brazil international missed Friday’s win over Huddersfield with a thigh muscle tear but it was decided he had recovered enough for a place among the substitutes.
Jurgen Klopp opted to stick with his typical 4-3-3 formation, but made the bold move of using Georginio Wijnaldum as a makeshift forward alongside Mane and Salah.
The Dutchman midfielder enjoyed a free role in the centre of the three-man attack, allowing his fellow attackers to do their thing down the wings.
Wijnaldum enjoyed a positive match, and performed a fantastic dummy in the second half to allow Milner a chance at goal, the England midfielder firing straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
5. Early blow for Liverpool
Klopp’s Plan A went down the drain within 22 minutes, after Naby Keita picked up a knock and was unable to continue.
The German called upon skipper Jordan Henderson, who joined Fabinho and James Milner in the centre of midfield.
Henderson is undoubtedly a talented midfielder, but Keita’s departure appeared to hit Liverpool hard – and moments later they were behind.
That’s not to say the England star was to blame, Barcelona’s counter-attack was just too quick to handle and Suarez showed superb movement to score.
But, nevertheless, it wasn’t an ideal start to the first half for Klopp, and he’ll be hoping Keita’s injury isn’t season ending.
6. Coutinho endures tough time against ex-club
While Suarez enjoyed a night to remember against his former club, another ex-Red endured a quiet time.
Philippe Coutinho hasn’t quite hit the heights expected of him after arriving from Liverpool in January last year.
He was underwhelming again, failing to get a hold of this game and was hooked off by manager Ernesto Valverde in the 60th minute.
And the Barcelona support seemingly agreed with Valverde’s decision, jeering the Brazilian off as he made his way to the Nou Camp dugout.