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'He's different class' - Messi quality the difference for Barcelona, admits Solskjaer

23:29 BST 16/04/2019
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2018-19
The Manchester United boss was full of praise for the Barca star after watching the Argentine take his side apart on Tuesday

Lionel Messi made all the difference between Manchester United and Barcelona, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

The Old Trafford outfit's boss watched his side get pulled apart by another stunning performance from the 31-year-old forward, who netted twice in quick succession to put the tie to rest early on in the second leg. 

A third would follow for Barcelona through Phillipe Coutinho as they cruised to a 3-0 win on the night and a 4-0 aggregate trouncing that was the worst for Man Utd in a two-legged European tie in the club's illustrious history

And Solskjaer was under no illusions as to why the gap between the clubs was so large. 

"I have to say Lionel Messi is top quality and he was the difference of course," Solskjaer told BT Sport . "At 2-0 straight after it was game over.

"He's different class, he and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best players of the last decade, everyone agrees on that one. Messi showed his quality."

For Manchester United, the loss leaves the club on the outside looking in as they attempt to re-join Europe's elite.

And for Solskjaer, matching the likes of Barcelona is the goal that the club must have to get back to their traditional standards, though according to the manager there is "loads of work to do."

"We have to aspire to get to that level of Barcelona, we can get there but we have loads of work to do," he said. "If we want to get back to Man Utd's true level, true traditions, we have to challenge Barcelona.

"They were a couple of levels above over the two games."

But to challenge the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United must remain in the Champions League, with the club currently sitting sixth in the Premier League two points back of fourth-placed Arsenal

They'll have to refocus quickly, with games against Everton on Sunday and second-placed Manchester City next Wednesday crucial to the club's hope of being in the Champions League next season. 

"We want to play these games again next year so we have a massive week coming up," Solskjaer said. "There is no point dwelling on what could have been, we have to focus on this week."