CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

"Messi always delivers" – Valverde

Messi always delivers – Valverde

Getty Images

Lionel Messi's performance against Manchester United in Tuesday's Champions League quarter final delighted Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

Ernesto Valverde praised Lionel Messi for "always" delivering after the star guided Barcelona past Manchester United and into the Champions League semi-finals. Messi scored a first-half brace and Philippe Coutinho added Barça's third in a 3-0 win over United at Camp Nou on Tuesday, a result that sealed a 4-0 aggregate success.

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second LegMessi celebrates scoring the opener against Manchester United at Camp Nou.

Liverpool or Porto in the semis

The goals were Messi's first in the Champions League quarter-finals since April 2013 as Barça moved into a last-four meeting with either Liverpool or Porto. Valverde was predictably delighted with Messi, who is up to 45 goals in all competitions this season.

"Messi always appears," he told Movistar. "Not only in moments, but in the games as a whole. He scores but is also the offensive weight of our team."

Final in Madrid

Barça will enter the semi-finals as one of the favourites to win the Champions League for what would be their sixth title. However, Valverde played down favouritism and said his side's next focus was on reaching the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on 1 June.

"We have played two good games. That is what you have to do to be able to continue in the Champions League and that you consider us more or less favourites," he said. "We are well. We are confident for the next tie against a great rival and for that we have 10 or 15 days left. We would like to reach the final."