A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona completely outclassed Manchester City as an Ivan Rakitic strike secured a 1-0 win on Wednesday that sent the Spanish giants...
A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona completely outclassed Manchester City as an Ivan Rakitic strike secured a 1-0 win on Wednesday that sent the Spanish giants into the Champions League quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate.
Messi has been in blistering form for the Catalan side and he delighted the home fans in a packed Nou Camp as he relentlessly teased the City players with his party tricks.
Holding the advantage from the first leg, Barca could afford to sit back and hit the Premier League side on the break.
City struggled badly in defence against Barca’s pace and movement, with the breakthrough coming after 31 minutes when Messi found Rakitic, who coolly lobbed the ball over visiting keeper Joe Hart.
Barca also hit the woodwork through Neymar and Luis Suarez, and keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a Sergio Aguero penalty in a victory that enabled them to reach the quarter-finals for a record eighth successive year.
It is the second straight season that City have been knocked out by Barcelona at this stage and it means there will be no English representative in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition.
Barca coach Luis Enrique brought Jeremy Mathieu in at centre back for Javier Mascherano, who covered for the injured Sergio Busquets in midfield.
City’s hopes depended on having a tight defence, but under-fire centre back Vincent Kompany gifted the hosts a golden chance after five minutes, when Dani Alves stole the ball off him and set up Neymar, whose shot came back off the left post.
The visitors had a lot of the ball but they were torn apart when they lost possession.
Messi had a shot from a tight angle saved by Hart after 10 minutes and the Barcelona forward line were on the receiving end of some wild challenges as City tried to keep them at bay.
Barca increased their stranglehold on the tie when Messi found Rakitic in plenty of space to score and shortly before halftime Suarez ran through on goal but was denied by a post.
The hosts continued to create clearcut chances in the second half with Neymar missing an excellent opportunity with just the keeper to beat after 75 minutes.
Barca were also guilty at times of sitting on their lead and could have been punished had City been more clinical.
Gerard Pique was adjudged to have fouled Aguero for a penalty with 12 minutes to play but Ter Stegen saved the Argentine’s spot kick and snuffed out City’s last hope of launching a comeback.