Rio Ferdinand believes Chris Smalling's first-leg challenge was "worst thing that could have happened" 1 month ago

Rio Ferdinand believes Chris Smalling's first-leg challenge was "worst thing that could have happened"

You won't like him when he's angry.

Chris Smalling revealed that Lionel Messi had assured him that there were no hard feelings between the pair after the challenge which left the Barcelona star bleeding from the nose during last week's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Old Trafford.

And while there may not have been any animosity, Messi most definitely exacted his revenge at Camp Nou six days later.

Messi netted a brace inside 20 minutes in the return leg and ran rings around Manchester United's defenders in what was a miserable evening for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

There are certain players against whom roughhouse tactics might work but according to United legend Rio Ferdinand, Smalling's challenge on Messi only served to motivate the Argentine.

"I’ve said it before: Chris Smalling smashed him in the first game," Ferdinand told BT Sport. "It’s probably the worst thing that could have happened over that first game, to smash him, because they woke the beast up and he said: ‘Listen, I’ll put a clinic on here today and make sure you know about me’.

"And that’s what he did. A player of this ability, of this stature, sometimes you’ve just got to say he was too good and tonight that was the case.

"Just to be here, there’s going to be people in this stadium - Man United fans - disappointed but they’re going to be able to say: ‘I was there to see Messi perform at that level’."