Barcelona 2 Manchester City 1 (4-1 agg)

UEFA Champions League, Round of 16
Wednesday 12 March 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Milner, Silva (Negredo 72), Nasri (Navas 75), Aguero (Dzeko 45)
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Boyata, Garcia
Goals: Kompany (89)
Booked: Fernandinho, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Kompany
Sent Off: Zabaleta

Referee: Stephane Lannoy
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany

Kolarov and Lescott deny Neymar.

Kolarov and Lescott deny Neymar.

City have been knocked out of the Champions League following defeat to Barcelona. The Blues felt aggrieved by refereeing decisions on the night, but ultimately the damage had been done in the first leg.

Lescott was lucky to avoid a yellow card for a pull-back on Messi, before he was lucky not to concede a penalty for a foul on the same man. Hart was off his line quickly to deny Messi, who almost did brilliantly – having kept the ball in – but Kompany recovered to clear.

With 16 minutes gone, City wasted their first good chance. Kolarov played a powerful, low ball into the middle where Milner was unmarked, but the midfielder wasn’t expecting the cross to land at his feet and he shanked his effort wide of the post.

A moment later, though, the visitors should have been behind: The offside flag went up against Alba when he was actually onside – Neymar slotted his square ball in, but it didn’t count. City were riding their luck.

With ten minutes of the half to play, Silva should have done better with time and space on the corner of the box. A great break from Toure played Milner in down the left and he pulled it back across for the Ivorian. He slipped in Silva on the right and, cutting inside, the Spaniard shot for the top corner – but skied the effort.

The home side almost took advantage of a slip from Kolarov. The full back lost his footing when one-on-one with Neymar and the Brazilian shot for Hart’s near post, but the goalkeeper pushed it behind. A clever corner almost caught City out – but Hart again stood up well to block and Lescott and Toure completed the clearance.

Toure competes with Pique.

Toure competes with Pique.

Excellent play from the visitors almost opened the scoring again – Toure chipped a neat ball in to Silva with Zabaleta making a decoy run on the right. The Spaniard flicked it back to Nasri, who volleyed at goal, but it was straight at Valdes. Either side and he’d have scored. The Frenchman was unlucky. At the other end, Fernandinho was required to head off the line, after Neymar rounded Hart.

City began the second half as they did the first – but this time with more impetus. A cheeky run inside from Milner opened up space and Kolarov found the midfielder, who turned to shoot. It was blocked to Silva, who picked out Dzeko and the Bosnian’s effort – low and hard – forced Valdes into a comfortable stop to his left.

Five minutes into the half, Lescott was lucky again facing off against Messi. The defender gave the ball away and chased back, where he did his best to slow the Argentine down. Messi, though, wriggled free and shot low to Hart’s right – who threw himself at it, but couldn’t reach. It bounced back into play from the post.

Immediately, City went down the other end on the attack. Kolarov found space to cross from a Silva pass and he picked out Dzeko at the back post. The Bosnian did all he could to direct it back across goal and it was dropping into the top corner until a brilliant save from Valdes pushed it behind. Zabeleta was then on the end of a deflected cross, but he couldn’t turn it in on his left foot.

With 66 minutes played, though, City were ruing their missed chances. A through-ball deflected off Lescott and straight into the path of Messi, one-on-one with Hart. The goalkeeper did his best to cover the goal, but he could do nothing about the Argentine’s deft chip into the far corner of the net.

It went from bad to worse for City with just over ten minutes to play. Dzeko was denied a clear penalty when he was chopped down by Pique when he was about to pull the trigger and, for his protests, Zabaleta was shown a second yellow card. It was an awful decision, compounded by a red card for the full back.

With a minute of the game left, the visitors equalised. A corner was played into the middle by Navas, where Dzeko headed at goal. Kompany, just onside in the six-yard box, turned it into the net.

However, with seconds of the game remaining, Iniesta got his head up after rounding Hart when played through and found Alves. The defender smashed the ball past Milner on the line and the result was confirmed.


Manchester City 0 Barcelona 2

UEFA Champions League, Round of 16
Tuesday 18 February 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Nasri 57), Toure, Fernandinho, Kolarov (Lescott 57), Silva, Negredo (Dzeko 74)
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Garcia, Jovetic
Booked: Negredo, Kolarov
Sent Off: Demichelis

Referee: Jonas Eriksson
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta

Demichelis brings down Messi for a penalty.

Demichelis brings down Messi for a penalty.

City’s Champions League hopes are dangling by a thread – as two away goals for Barcelona look to be enough for the Catalan giants to make it safely into the quarter finals.

The away side were impressive throughout but found City’s back-line difficult to break down, with Hart rarely troubled in the first period. The City keeper was needed to punch clear a corner from Xavi, before that same man tried a speculative effort from range that Hart got over well to palm away.

Despite enjoying very little possession, the Blues actually carved out the better first half chances. Negredo, played through by Silva, tried to flick the ball over the on-rushing Valdes, but the effort didn’t make the goal and Kolarov couldn’t arrive in time to finish.

The Spaniard should have done better when Navas picked him out from the right flank, but under pressure from Pique, he could only flick his header wide. The game settled back into pattern: Barcelona possession, City stoic and disciplined at the back. Kolarov though was lucky not to be shown red for a two-footed lunge.

The same couldn’t be said for Demchelis early in the second half. City’s discipline broke and Messi was clean through on Hart. The Argentine defender dived in on his compatriot, but missed the ball and brought him down in the box. Red card and penalty – no arguments – and Messi got up to score.

Negredo tried to dink the ball past Valdes.

Negredo tried to dink the ball past Valdes.

An already difficult job became almost impossible, as the visitors exploited gaps and dominated possession more so than before. Still, though, City wouldn’t lie down: Nasri had a shot blocked en route to Valdes following a cute back-heel from Negredo.

Xavi headed well over Hart’s bar, before Alves should have doubled the visitors’ advantage. A series of one-touch passes put the right back in and he drilled a shot inches wide of the goalkeeper’s far post.

City were giving it a real go with ten minutes to play. Toure picked out Zabaleta on the right and he volleyed inside for Silva. The Spaniard brought it down on his chest and turned to smash at the far corner, but Valdes was down well to block. Dzeko almost nicked in between the two centre backs, but again the goalkeeper blocked – it wouldn’t have counted though, as the referee spotted a foul.

A 0-1 defeat would have been a tough enough task going to the Nou Camp, but, in stoppage time, Barcelona added a second to virtually end the tie. Another one-touch move sent Alves in on Hart’s goal – and this time he drilled it under the keeper and into the net.

Only a miracle now will see City remain in the Champions League this season.