Barcelona's Lionel Messi sinks Liverpool – in pictures

Here are some of the best photographs involving the Argentine Superstar during the Catalans' victory over Liverpool

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Barcelona beat Liverpool 3-0 in the Uefa Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Here are some of the best images involving Lionel Messi, who scored two of those goals. After three successive quarter-final defeats, the Argentine seemed to be on a mission to lead the Catalans to their first Champions League final appearance since they last won the tournament in 2015.

Messi, Barca's incomparable striker, made a promise last September to "bring that beautiful trophy" back to the Camp Nou and his late double – which took him to an incredible 600 career goals for the club – was a huge step towards achieving that dream.

The Argentine had failed to score in his two previous appearances against Liverpool and for long periods he was held in check by Reds centre-back Virgil van Dijk and his fellow defenders.

But Messi is too talented to be subdued for long and he finally escaped Van Dijk's clutches to score from close-range after Suarez's effort hit the bar in the 75th minute.

Messi was just getting warmed up and in the 82nd minute he left Liverpool stunned when he curled a superb 25-yard free-kick into the top corner.

It was another frustrating evening in the Camp Nou for Van Dijk, who was given a rough ride on his last visit in 2013 as a 22-year-old Celtic defender in a 6-1 defeat.

The Dutch international has improved dramatically since that night and arrived back in Spain as the newly crowned PFA Player of the Year, but even he was no match for the peerless Messi in the end.