Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted his Manchester United side were no match for Barcelona, who strolled to a 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Two first-half goals from Lionel Messi, one of which was thanks to a huge error from David de Gea, effectively killed off the tie early on, and a stunning long-range strike from Philippe Coutinho ensured United were comprehensively eliminated from the Champions League.
He said: “If you want the result you need a performance. We started well, created some decent chances but then he [Messi] hits that in the bottom corner. He’s top quality and he was the difference. Of course, 2-0 straight after was game over.
“He’s different class, him and Cristiano [Ronaldo], everyone agrees on that. Tonight he has shown his quality and that’s the level we have to aspire to get to. We know we’re not there yet, we have lots of work to do, but we can get there.
“If we want to get back to Manchester United’s true level and traditions we have to challenge the Barcelonas. They were a couple of levels above us.
“We want to play these games again next year so we have a massive week coming up. There’s no point dwelling on what could have been, it could have been different if we started better, but now we have to concentrate and focus on this week.”
Elimination from the Champions League means United must secure a top-four finish in the Premier League to qualify for the tournament next season. The Red Devils currently sit sixth, two points behind Arsenal in fourth.
Their attention must now turn to Sunday’s trip to Everton, with every match between now and the end of the season set to be crucial in their quest for the top four.