sport news suffer a mighty fall after Champions League thumping at ...

If you wanted to be cruel, there are a selection of images available that illustrate just how miserable an evening this was for .

Lionel Messi sitting by the corner flag smiling after the rings run around three United players were squared by a playground shove from an exasperated Scott McTominay. 

David de Gea trying to hold a soft Messi shot like a child trying to contain a pet rabbit. United’s away end emptying with ten minutes to go. Paul Pogba falling over. 

Manchester United are still searching for their true identity after their Champions League exit

are still searching for their true identity after their Champions League exit

Lionel Messi struck a first-half double for Barcelona to dump Manchester United out

Lionel Messi struck a first-half double for Barcelona to dump out

Each would portray the discomfort, the embarrassment and ultimately the pointlessness of this evening from a United point of view. 

If we needed to know exactly how far United have fallen since the years when nothing scared them – if anybody hadn’t been paying attention - then here was the evidence. 

Maybe, then, it’s better and just as instructive to focus on Messi’s opening goal. As much as anything that followed, it was a goal that shaped and ultimately settled this tie.

Poor by his standards in the first leg at Old Trafford last week, Messi seemed intent on resurrecting the true image of himself here. The 31-year-old was recognisabe once again and never more so than in the timing of his first real intervention. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has much to do if he is to take his club back to the upper echelons

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has much to do if he is to take his club back to the upper echelons

Barcelona, strange as it sounds now, had looked vulnerable early in the game. United had found space to explore. They had hit the bar and fluffed another good chance.

So Messi’s goal was important and it felt so at the time. If didn’t really look on either. The way Messi had shaken off the attentions of Ashley Young (twice) and then Phil Jones as he moved right to left across the top of the penalty area was recognisable but as he looked to release his shot, he looked to have about half a foot to aim at.

De Gea had his angles right and must have fancied his chances. Top corner would have given Messi a puncher’s chance but instead he went low, drawing a stunning left foot shot away from De Gea and then back behind his right hand and in to the goal.

It was one from the Messis showreel, a classic. We have all seen it before but that does not lessen the quality or the impact of the moment. For United it must have felt like a door being slammed in their face, the scorer scampering away to take the applause with the key tucked in his sock.

Strictly speaking, the goal didn’t change United’s task. Ole

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