Barcelona edged Manchester City 2-1 away from home in Tuesday night’s Uefa Champions League round of 16 clash between the two clubs at the Etihad Stadium. The visitors controlled the game – knocking around the ball and dominating possession in the opening half. Their patient but swift build up caused trouble for the City defence, who didn’t look their usual bullying self in the first half.
A defensive error from City captain Vincent Kompany allowed Luis Suarez the opportunity to pull Barca ahead in the 16th minute. This was after Kompany failed to deal with a cross from Lionel Messi after the Blaugrana played a short corner. Suarez turned Kompany and drove a low shot past Joe Hart who could do nothing but watch the ball hit the back of the net.
Some 12 minutes later Suarez made it 2-0 when he ran onto a Jordi Alba low cross. The home defence clearly expected a cut back from Alba, stepping back waiting on the cross however the Catalan player crossed the ball closer to the near post allowing Suarez to net his brace on the half hour mark. The next opportunity fell to Dani Alves, who with a cross-come-shot, hit the cross bar in the 44th minute.
A minute later Samir Nasri responded for City with a perfectly-timed shot however the visiting keeper was up to the task parrying the shot away allowing Luis Enrique’s side to take a 2-0 lead into half-time. The Citizens came out to play in the second half and in the 54th minute Sergio Aguero cleverly sidestepped Gerard Pique but shot wide.
Aguero would pull one back for Manuel Pellegrini’s side in the 69th minute after sprinting onto a Fernandinho through ball after after Messi was dispossessed of the ball. Pellegrini’s men turned defence into attack and breathed life into a possible comeback. This would not be as defender Gael Clichy picked up a second yellow card in the 74th minute reducing the home side to 10 men diminishing any hopes of such a comeback.
In fact, thereafter it was the Spanish club that looked more likely to score which should’ve been the case when Messi was brought down in the box in referee’s additional time. Hart guessed the right way to save the penalty while Messi missed the follow up diving header. As a result the English club will go into the second leg hoping to emulate their performances against Roma and Bayern Munich when they won both games to advance to the current stage when they looked more likely to be eliminated in the group stages.