Match Report

Barcelona v City UCL 18 March

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Wed 18 Mar
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City are out of the Champions League but left the Nou Camp with heads held high after a fighting performance that smacked of pride and passion.

Barcelona scored the only goal of the game, but the battling Blues gave as good as they got after the break without reward with the pivotal moment a 78th-minute penalty miss by Sergio Aguero.

Joe Hart produced a string of brilliant saves as City rode their luck at times, but there was much to admire about the way Manuel Pellegrini’s men refused to buckle despite a magical display be Lionel Messi.

It was always going to be a tough ask.

City’s chance in this tie was always going to be at the Etihad, but trailing 2-1 going into this game against a Barcelona team with Messi somewhere near his mesmeric best would test the mettle of any team on the planet

...Barca 1 City 0...

 

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The Blues knew they had to keep things tight at the back but maintain an adventurous spirit to have any hope of clawing their way back into contention – but after just six minutes the size of the task was underlined as Messi found the overlapping Neymar in the box and the Brazilian’s shot struck the inside of the post before rolling across the goal and out of play.

Three minutes later Messi played a sumptuous one-two with Iniesta but Hart saved the day with a smart save as the Blues clung on.

In the next attack, though, City came close to finding the breakthrough so desperately needed as Yaya Toure and David Silva worked an opening for James Milner who was denied by a fantastic tackle six yards out by Dani Alves as he was about to pull the trigger.

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Had that gone in, the complexion of the game would have been very different – but as the half progressed, so Messi‘s influence became all-consuming

...Barca 1 City 0..

 

He sent a couple of free-kicks inches over Hart’s bar before he again opened up the visitors’ defence just past the half-hour and this time, the Catalans made no mistake as Rakitic raced into the box unchallenged before toeing the ball over the on-rushing Hart in off the underside of the crossbar.

Of course it made things even harder, but City still needed two goals regardless so it wasn’t a fatal blow – that was almost dealt by Luis Suarez in the last minute of the half as he raced through and clipped the ball past Hart only to see his effort hit the post and roll out of play.

City needed a change of plan to try and get back into the game and the half-time introduction of Jesus Navas for Samir Nasri proved the spark for a much-improved display in the second period

...Barca 1 City 0...

 

On 57 minutes an over-confident home keeper Marc Stegen tried to dribble the ball past Sergio Aguero on the right flank before losing the ball to the same player - but Kun’s shot from distance was easily cleared

barca goalie and sergio

Seven minutes later City came agonisingly close to levelling the scores as the livewire Navas cut into the box from Yaya Toure’s return ball but the Spaniard’s cross missed three team-mates before Kolarov’s low drive was somehow scrambled clear by Barcelona.

It was a sterling effort by the Blues who still had plenty of defending to do but Messi, Neymar and Suarez were all denied several times by the brilliant Hart who was pulling off save after save.

Then, finally, the golden chance City had waited for all evening as Aguero weaved his way into the box only to be felled by Gerard Pique – the ref awarded a penalty

...Barca 1 City 0...

 

There was no margin for error and the spot-kick had to be converted – but Aguero’s shot was easily saved and the Blues’ chance had, in all reality, gone.

City had played so well, it would have made for a thrilling finish to the game and the way the Blues were playing, the momentum would have been all with the English champions and it was a real pity we’ll never know what might have been.

City’s spirit didn’t wane, despite Kun’s miss and there were more half-chances at both ends before the final whistle finally called time on this season’s European adventure.

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