Lionel Messi left Anfield in tears following Barcelona’s drubbing by Liverpool as his Champions League dreams were wrecked
- Lionel Messi was inconsolable after Barcelona were beaten 4-0 by Liverpool
- Argentine had been on a personal mission to deliver sixth Champions League
- But Messi was powerless as his side surrendered 3-0 first-leg advantage
- To make matters worse, Messi was selected for post-match random drugs test
- Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson said the night will always live with him
Lionel Messi left Anfield in tears after Liverpool sensationally wrecked his personal crusade to win Barcelona their sixth European Cup.
There were many abiding images from the night Jurgen Klopp’s men hauled themselves back from the brink; one that particularly resonated, though, was of Messi standing with his hands on hips, looking at the scoreboard, after Liverpool had scored their fourth goal.
Barcelona’s captain had made it his mission to win ‘that trophy’ for his team but he was left demoralised by the way Liverpool tore them apart and he was inconsolable when he returned to the dressing room. To add to the ignominy, Messi was selected to do the random drug test.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi cut a forlorn figure as they lost 4-0 to Liverpool on Tuesday night
The Argentine star decided the first leg but could do nothing to stop Liverpool’s comeback
Messi looked lost as Liverpool defied the odds to win 4-0 on a tumultuous night at Anfield
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson revealed Messi left the stadium in tears afterwards
It was an evening of incredible drama, one of the greatest Anfield has witnessed, but Barcelona’s players accepted the consequences of their performance and recognised the criticism it would lead to upon their return to Catalonia.
Liverpool, however, deserved their place in the final on June 1 and captain Jordan Henderson – who will become on the fourth man in history to lead an English club to two consecutive European Cup finals – revealed how Jurgen Klopp’s team never panicked as they tried to defy the odds.
They had taken encouragement from the way they had performed in the Nou Camp six days earlier; Messi’s magic had distorted the gap between the two teams in that first contest and the ferocity with which Liverpool attacked enabled them to peg Barcelona back.
‘It was a strange one last week because we were 3-0 down but still took confidence from the performance,’ said Henderson.
‘We still believed that we were the better team over there but it is hard to say that when you get beat 3-0.
‘But in the changing room we had belief we could hurt them and tonight with a special atmosphere with a special crowd and special goals created a special night, an amazing night and one that we will remember forever. But at the same time it is a semi-final.
‘We have another game to go in three weeks so it is another big one to look forward to.’
It means failure at the semi-final of the Champions League for Messi for a second year in a row
He found himself crowded out by red shirts as he struggled to make much of an impression
Liverpool fans taunt Messi as he walks back down the Anfield tunnel following the defeat
Henderson was outstanding in midfield throughout. He chastised himself for failing to score in the seventh minute – his shot actually provided the assist for Divock Origi’s opener – but it was the only possible aspect he could have found fault.
There were fears Henderson would need to come off during the first half after he hurt his knee but he took painkillers and had an injection at the interval to ensure he could continue; he kept running until the end and left the field singing ‘Allez! Allez! Allez!’, one of the club’s terrace anthems.
‘It does mean a lot to me,’ said Henderson. ‘I was struggling a little bit when I got a whack on the knee. It was dead. The doctor said just keep it moving. I managed to get to half time and I had a bit of treatment, took painkillers, all that stuff which helped.
‘There was a jab and tablets. Both. Everything. I said: ‘just give us everything.’ So i managed to get through it and the crowd helped as well and keep us going. It was an amazing night and honoured to be part of it and contribute.’