Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona
Lionel Messi and Dani Alves scored as Barcelona beat Manchester City in the Champions League last 16 first leg.
Martin Demichelis’ 53rd-minute sending off proved Manchester City’s undoing against Barcelona on Tuesday, as Lionel Messi’s penalty and Dani Alves’ 89th-minute strike enabled the Spanish side to build a 2-0 first leg advantage.
City, while without the ball for large spells of the match, were holding their own until Demichelis received his marching orders after bringing down Messi inside the box.
The Argentine made no mistake from the spot to compound the punishment, before Alves’ incisive finish moments from the finish gave Gerardo Martino’s side an extra cushion ahead of the second leg in March.
City had their half-chances, with Victor Valdes forced into a handful of moments of smart goalkeeping, but Manuel Pellegrini can only wonder what might have been had been without Demichelis’ foul—which, as replays showed, appeared to take place just outside the penalty area.
In the opening stages Barcelona dominated possession—as is their trademark—but, after holding firm during that initial examination, it was actually City who created the first real openings of the game.
Silva was at the heart of both of them; the Spaniard’s perfectly-weighted throughball giving Alvaro Negredo the chance to round Javier Mascherano and Valdes before narrowly missing the target with a clipped effort from a very acute angle, before a perfect corner forced Valdes to recover desperately to prevent the ball crossing his line.
Negredo then forced Valdes into a save with an opportunistic snapshot as City continued to threaten more despite Barca’s greater time on the ball—with Martin Demichelis increasingly impressive with his reading of the game and breaking up of play. A brief passage of inattentive play from the City backline did create a first half-chance for Barca, however, with Messi firing over with a warning shot from 20 yards.
Barca clinched a late and decisive goal as Alves latched on to a Neymar pass to score the second late in normal time after City had chased the game.
City’s best chance fell to David Silva in the second half but Victor Valdes pulled off a fine save to his right.
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