Barcelona snuff out Man City's faint Champions League hopes
BARCELONA: 1 MANCHESTER CITY: 0 (Barcelona win 3-1 on aggregate)
Lionel Messi and Barcelona turned on the style to dump Manchester City and their inspired goalkeeper Joe Hart out of the Champions League.
It was thanks to Hart's heroics that Barcelona could manage only a 1-0 win at the Nou Camp, with Ivan Rakitic scoring the only goal of another one-sided encounter between the two sides, completing a comprehensive aggregate win to secure the Catalan giants' place in the quarter-finals.
City did show some spirit in the second half, and could have pulled one back when Sergio Aguero had a penalty saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but in truth the scoreline flattered them.
Barcelona were in a different league to the English champions and Messi was simply outstanding.
One of the enduring images from the game will be his first-half nutmeg on James Milner, who was bamboozled and left on the turf by the Argentinian's brilliance.
“We lost against the better team without doubt. Barcelona is a tough team to play against and especially with Messi, it is difficult to beat Barcelona the moment," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“If the first half we lost too many balls and against Barcelona, you have to keep the ball.
"They are playing well at the moment and we had to take the risk to go forward, but in the first half we can play better with the ball.
“We didn’t have a good first half, but we improve a lot in the second half and we know we have to score two goals.
"Maybe we are still thinking what might have happened if we had scored the penalty (below), but we didn’t and they won the game.
“Of course the penalty was a very important moment. We had a to play 15 minutes more and at that moment, maybe Barcelona will not play the same way.
It said much for City's night that their man of the match was comfortably Hart, who made a strong of brilliant saves in the second half to limit the damage.
“We have gone out to a magnificent side, but that is the second time in two years for us and that is disappointing for us,” stated Hart.
“They are going to get a lot of plaudits for how they played, but we had a big chance with the penalty and unfortunately we didn’t take it.
“It was nice to save a penalty from Messi in the first leg, but I wanted it to count [in the outcome of the tie] and unfortunately it hasn’t. We had a but of a luck on our side at times and did our best to stay in it, but it was unfortunate for us in the end.”
City midfielder James Milner also suggested the Aguero penalty miss was the last chance for his side to get back into the tie.
“It was a good chance for us,” he said. “I think there was 15 minutes left and getting that goal would have helped, but that’s football.
"Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. These ties are decided on those moments and unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.
“We had a big chance and we didn’t take it. They are a great team, but we didn’t show our best over two legs. We stopped them playing in patches, but we didn’t do enough to put them under pressure for long periods.
“We would have pressed them better for long and when we had it, we didn’t show our quality. We showed in in flashes, but in games against these sort of teams, you have to be at top level for 180 minutes.”
The loss will leave City boss Pellegrini fighting for his future, yet even the greatest manager and players would have struggled against Barcelona in this mood.
There was a theory that Barcelona's era of Champions League dominance was over, but this latest wonder show suggested they may be the team to beat in this competition all over again.