• Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona

City pay the penalty against Barcelona

ESPN staff
February 18, 2014
City not strong enough

Manchester City paid the price for a lapse in concentration after Barcelona took command of their Champions League last 16 tie by winning 2-0 in the first leg at the Etihad.

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves scored the goals to leave City with an uphill task to reach the quarter-finals after they played the majority of the second half with 10 men after Martin Demichelis was sent off for bringing down Messi in the penalty area for the opening goal.

Ibrahimovic leads PSG rout

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a fine second goal © Getty Images
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic added another stunning goal to his collection as Paris St Germain needed just 45 minutes to all but book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by outclassing Bayer Leverkusen.
  • The Swede was quiet, even off-colour, until scoring twice in four minutes at the end of the first half, converting a controversial penalty and then smashing a left-footed shot from the edge of the area straight into the top corner.
  • Blaise Matuidi earlier stunned the BayArena just three minutes into this first leg with the opening goal, and that set the tone for the match.
  • PSG had no need to get out of second gear against opponents who are no strangers to the latter stages of the Champions League but froze badly this time and appeared to accept their fate.
  • Leverkusen were reduced to 10 men in the 59th minute, defender Emir Spahic harshly sent off for two yellow cards, and their misery was complete when PSG substitute Yohan Cabaye added a late fourth with his first goal for his new club.

City came close to scoring the opening goal in the first half when Alvaro Negredo almost converted his chance from an acute angle, while Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes recovered well in a scrap with players just before the break.

But as Barcelona continued to dominate possession, they found the breakthrough, with Messi being fouled by Demichelis in the penalty area which resulted in the City defender being sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, and Messi tucking away the spot-kick straight down the middle.

While City battled with 10 men and made Valdes work, Alves grabbed a second goal towards by sliding the ball under Joe Hart.

Barcelona coach Gerard Martino had said the key to victory was possession and so it proved, as the visitors controlled the ball for long spells.

Yet City appeared to have been expecting that having packed midfield. Fernandinho's return from injury allowed manager Manuel Pellegrini to deploy five across the middle with Negredo operating as a lone striker.

After 14 minutes largely on the back foot, but with Barca yet to create a clear-cut chance, Vincent Kompany picked out Negredo with a long ball.

The powerful forward controlled well on the edge of the box but Javier Mascherano, with whom he regularly battled, managed to scramble away. Negredo caused more trouble in the box after Jesus Navas crossed from the right but Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson penalised him for a foul on goalkeeper Valdes.

Barca had another scare as Valdes was beaten in the air by Kompany at a corner but he scrambled back to gather on the line. Negredo had another chance from outside the area but shot straight at Valdes.

All these chances punctuated spells of prolonged Barca possession and the Catalans did eventually pierce the hard-working back line of Kompany and Demichelis.

Cesc Fabregas played in Andres Iniesta only for Yaya Toure to get back and Messi linked well with Xavi and Iniesta before shooting over. Hart saved well from a strong Xavi shot and Kompany bundled Messi over.

Negredo had another chance to open the scoring before half-time but glanced a header wide from Navas' cross. City were to regret those missed chances as Barcelona upped the tempo for the second half.

Messi certainly appeared to move up the gears and did well to release Fabregas down the left. That attack came to nothing but Messi was clearly in the mood and had the hosts, and particularly, Demichelis in trouble as he burst through on goal.

Demichelis could not keep pace and slid in in a desperate attempt to tackle, but succeeded only in tripping his fellow Argentinian. Contact appeared to be just outside the area but Eriksson pointed to the spot and gave Demichelis his marching orders.

Messi calmly stroked home the penalty down the centre as Hart dived to left. Pellegrini sent on Joleon Lescott to reinforce the defence but recognised damage limitation was not an option and also introduced Samir Nasri.

Nasri was soon in the action and had a shot blocked from a Negredo lay-off. Barca could have taken even greater command of the tie as Xavi shot over and Alves fired across goal.

City broke again but Gael Clichy wasted an opening and a well-struck Silva volley was clutched by Valdes. The hosts, however, may have had a stroke of luck as Gerard Pique had a late goal ruled out for a marginal offside.

Edin Dzeko had a late chance for City but was harshly penalised for a foul. There was no reprieve for City in the final minute as Alves got behind the defence and fired past Hart.

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