Barcelona’s record signing Philippe Coutinho lit up the Camp Nou on Tuesday with a spectacular long-range effort to help the Catalans seal the Champions League quarter finals tie against Manchester United.
He followed it up with a celebration that drew a lot of criticism. The Brazilian ran towards the stands with his fingers in his ears, which was interpreted as a jab at the supporters.
The winger clarified on social media that he had no intention of disrespecting anyone with his celebration.
“We should never listen to people who want to demotivate us,” Coutinho posted in an Instagram explanation.
“Because their speech will distract us from our real goal. I have never disrespected anyone inside or outside of football.
“I always look forward to the future with ambition.”
All eyes will be on Coutinho as he returns to Anfield in three weeks’ time as Barcelona look to overcome Liverpool in the semis.
Barcelona advanced to the Champions League semi-final by surviving an early scare to claim a 3-0 victory (4-0 on aggregate) over Manchester United at the Camp Nou.
You-know-who was the star with the first two goals, one of which was aided by a disastrous defensive clanger.
Find out how all the players rated here:
Ter Stegen 7. Made a couple of routine saves from Rashford and Pogba and a superb late reflex stop to deny Sanchez.
Roberto 6. Struggled early against Martial’s pace, but recovered and was denied a goal by a great save from De Gea.
Pique 7. Composed against his former club, easily containing Lingard although less comfortable against sub Lukaku.
Lenglet 6. Sloppy start but soon regained his usual solidity in the centre of defence as United’s threat was soon quashed.
Alba 7. Energetic and incisive down the left, always available to get forward in support of Coutinho and linking play well.
Rakitic 7. Gave Barca strength in midfield after their poor start with his usual discipline. Came close with a flicked header.
Busquets 7. Struggled against United’s fast start, but soon responded to deliver a fine display on and off the ball.
Arthur 7. Conducted the orchestra with a slick display of passing, helping control the midfield and dictate the tempo.
Messi 9. Glorious strike for the opener, got lucky for the second, and was magnificent throughout. Unique and unrepeatable.
Suarez 5. Somewhat off the pace with some poor touches in link-up play, and rarely had a sniff of goal but worked hard. Night summed up by petulant yellow.
Coutinho 8. Did really well on the left flank, knitting play together and offering penetration including a magnificent goal.
Semedo 6. Replaced Roberto at right-back for the final 20 minutes and was steady as the action wound down.
Vidal 6. Came on for Arthur with the game won at 3-0, and was a whirlwind of energy in the latter stages.
Dembele 6. Given a chance to regain match sharpness in the final ten minutes, but had little chance to impress.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is adamant that Philippe Coutinho will not be leaving the Camp Nou this summer despite rumoured interest from Manchester United and Chelsea.
Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool for £142million in January last year but the 26-year-old has not had the same kind of impact as he had during his time with the Reds, resulting in speculation of a move away.
Bartomeu, however, has made it clear Coutinho is part of manager Ernesto Valverde’s plans – unless a club triggers the midfielder’s release clause, rumoured to be a staggering £355million.
Speaking to Spanish television station TVE, Bartomeu said: “Coutinho is an excellent player and he has the coach’s confidence.
“He has a contract with us and he will remain at the team, unless they (another club) meet his release clause.”
Bartomeu has also rejected suggestions his club will move to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou less than two years after he joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of £200million.
Barca used the money to purchase Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, with Bartomeu hailing the forward.
Bartomeu added: “It’s not possible for Neymar to come to Barcelona as we have another sporting project with Dembele and Coutinho. We are happy with what we have.
“Dembele is a good professional player. He is a young guy who arrived at a huge club and that’s not easy, but he has adapted and he is much better than Neymar.”