BARCELONA, Spain — Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona after a David De Gea howler contributed to a 3-0 defeat at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi scored twice — the second after De Gea let a tame shot trickle into the net — before Philippe Coutinho bagged a third to send the Spanish giants in the semifinals 4-0 on aggregate.
It might have been different had Marcus Rashford converted a good chance after 24 seconds instead of hitting the bar, but after Messi scored twice in the space of four minutes midway through the first half, the tie was all but over. It stretches United’s wait for a Champions League semifinal to eight years as their attention switches to vital games against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team look to book a place in the next season’s competition.
United had their chances. Rashford hit the crossbar inside the first minute and moments later Scott McTominay was played in but let the opportunity slip away. The stunning round-of-16 win in Paris was made possible by an early goal, and United should have had one here. In the end, Barcelona survived and ended the tie with two goals in the opening 20 minutes.
De Gea made a horrible error to continue a patchy run of form. His distribution contributed to goals in the league defeat at Wolves and against West Ham on Saturday, although he atoned for that mistake with a wonderful save with the score at 1-1. Solskjaer has dismissed suggestions that ongoing contract talks are affecting his concentration, but it is a worry that so many mistakes are creeping in.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Solskjaer picked Victor Lindelof at right-back and chose Fred in midfield despite Nemanja Matic’s return to the squad. In the buildup he said he wanted a good start and he got one, but the early goal that would have sent panic through Camp Nou never came. The result means United are heading into crucial league fixtures against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea on the back of five defeats in their past seven games.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 4 — The Spaniard made an awful mistake to let Messi’s shot slide under his body and concede the goal that effectively ended the tie. Did well to keep out Sergi Roberto on the stoke of half-time.
DF Victor Lindelof, 5 — Asked to fill in at right-back. Didn’t get forward but had kept Coutinho relatively quiet until the Brazilian’s brilliant goal.
DF Chris Smalling, 5 — Made a couple of well-timed interceptions but should have got out more quickly to stop Coutinho curling in Barcelona’s third from 25 yards.
MF Fred, 6 — Preferred to Matic in midfield. Thought he had conceded a penalty after his challenge on Ivan Rakitic but the decision was overturned by VAR.
MF Scott McTominay, 6 — Presented with a golden chance after just two minutes but mis-controlled Rashford’s pass.
MF Paul Pogba, 6 — One of the architects of United’s quick start, but after an encouraging 10 minutes, Barcelona’s midfield took over. Showed his frustration with an angry kick at Arthur.
FW Anthony Martial, 5 — Looked bright in the first 10 minutes but had drifted out of the game by the time he was replaced by Diogo Dalot after 65 minutes65.
FW Marcus Rashford, 5 — Hit the crossbar after just 24 seconds. It was a big chance that could have changed the direction of the game.
FW Diogo Dalot, 6 — Introduced in place of Martial when Solskjaer switched to a back five.
FW Romelu Lukaku, N/R — Replaced Rashford on 73 minutes but couldn’t change United’s fortunes.
FW Alexis Sanchez, N/R — Received a polite round of applause upon returning to his former club with 11 minutes remaining.