Lionel Messi led Barcelona to victory over Liverpool REPLY FC Barcelona took a giant step towards their first Champions League final in four years thanks to a 3-0 win over a valiant Liverpool side that saw Lionel Messi stun yet again.Here are three things we learned from the exhilarating clash on Wednesday night… gameday cracker Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a faultless display for Barcelona against Liverpool 5 5 Virgil van Dijk had a tough night up against Lionel Messi You just knew that Lionel Messi had something special up his sleeves for goal No. 600 🐐A magnificent free-kick should be enjoyed from every angle 🙌 pic.twitter.com/IGyAOzZ7BB— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 20193. Marc-André ter Stegen serves up a reminder he’s among world’s bestTo give only Barcelona credit would be a disservice to Liverpool, and for the first quarter of the second half in particular, the Reds dominated like few teams have at Camp Nou. Being comfortable with playing on the counter-attack is one thing, but being forced out of possession is another, and Klopp’s side did admirably well to stamp their own mark on the game following the break.The really proof of Liverpool’s effectiveness was in creating chances, and Barcelona have one man to thank for not allowing the away team to change the match when it was most finely poised. Marc-André ter Stegen may get much deserved praise for the work he does with his feet, but with his hands the German is also among the very best, and his ice-cold demeanour and wrists of steel kept Barça alive in spells. Dominant when coming off his line to either punch or, more often than not, collect, Ter Stegen exuded a reliable cool that is invaluable in games of such high emotional stakes. latest MOST READ IN FOOTBALL whoops Liverpool news live: Klopp reveals when Minamino will play and issues injury update Lionel Messi was at his magnificent best for Barcelona against Liverpool Sky Sports presenter apologises for remarks made during Neville’s racism discussion 5 revealed 5 Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT Messi’s first strike, scored by being mentally sharper and quicker off the mark than everyone else, was one physical manifestation of that desire. The second, placed with pinpoint accuracy and unstoppable power as well as plenty of invention, was another. With Messi in this mood, there was little Liverpool could do. Can anyone? At present all indications suggest the number 10 will lift the European Cup as Barça captain for the first time come June. The average first-team salaries at every Premier League club in 2019 Barcelona played Liverpool at their own game at Camp Nou 2. Lionel Messi will stop at nothing to get his “beautiful trophy” backIf Messi’s efforts off the ball were an indicator that he meant business in this game, so too were his runs with it. Picking up possession in midfield and opting to drive forward, dribble and feint his way to his target rather than adopt the more pass-heavy approach of recent years, the Argentinian looked rejuvenated against Liverpool.Valverde convincing the playmaker to rest on several occasions in the last month has no doubt played its part in keeping him fresh, but there was more than just a reserve of physical energy behind these assaults. Just as he told us all at the start of the competitive year in his pre-season speech, Messi’s focus is on bringing the “beautiful trophy” back to the Camp Nou, and the rabid way he celebrated both of his goals only hammered that home. TROPHY Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ JIBE GETTY 1. Valverde plays Liverpool at their own gameAware of how high Liverpool would press, the traditionally “Barça-like” approach for Ernesto Valverde would have been to try and leave the visitors chasing shadows by controlling possession. There was a clear precedent too: such an approach worked like a charm for the Blaugrana against Tottenham in October, when Brazilian pass-master Arthur came of age and proved invaluable with his ability to receive the ball under pressure, turn, then move the ball on effectively.On Wednesday Valverde left Arthur out of the starting line-up however, and the choice of Arturo Vidal as his replacement gave us a hint of the Barça manager’s strategy before a ball was kicked. Instead of out-passing Liverpool, the home coach took the risky approach of trying to out-do the English side at their own game. He opted for running, pressure, and quick counter-attacks in an effort to catch the Reds, who would have been expected a more steady, patient build-up, flat-footed. Man United joined by three other clubs in race for Erling Haaland LATEST Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ 5 Liverpool update ‘Champions Wall’ after ending 2019 as European and world champions GETTY GETTY SORRY GETTY IN DEMAND The tactical gamble largely worked, and the success was thanks in no small part to the efforts of Philippe Coutinho (withdrawn, exhausted in the second half), Jordi Alba, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, who all chased like starving animals. Disciplined, synchronised and relentless in their approach, they asked big questions of Liverpool’s first outfield line, placing a huge amount of pressure on Virgil van Dijk in particular, the man tasked with the main responsibility of trying to break the waves. It’s not often that the Dutchman fumbles, but Suarez and Messi gave the normally so reliable centre-back difficulties.We often praise Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool for their pressing, but it’s worth remembering that it was Barcelona who made defending from the front popular back in 2008. On Wednesday that was their most notable attribute. Did Mahrez just accidentally reveal Fernandinho is leaving Man City this summer? Lampard appears to aim dig at Mourinho for handling of Salah and De Bruyne at Chelsea Whether pushing a sharp James Milner shot wide, or getting down low and fast to deny Mo Salah, the full range of the German’s qualities were on display. Even in the dying minutes, when Liverpool made a valiant push and sought to claim an away goal from a corner to salvage pride, the Barça number one was unshakable. Out to collect as if taking part in a training exercise, before the visitors had time to react he had already thrown the ball out to release his teammates in a counter-attack that ended with a corner at the other end.It is incredible to think that the 27-year-old is still not Germany’s number one – the people who watch him at the Camp Nou throughout the year certainly have no doubt. More will surely be convinced after Wednesday. In his present form, Ter Stegen deserves to be in the debate about the world’s best between the sticks.