Barcelona advanced to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals following a 2-1 victory at home to Manchester City on Wednesday evening in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi broke the deadlock in the 67th minute, capitalising on an error by Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott. Following a red card for City defender Pablo Zabaleta, the visitors pulled a goal back via captain Vincent Kompany in the 89th minute. But Barcelona grabbed a winner in stoppage time through Dani Alves to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory.
"At times and certain key moments City played well. They are a good team but we were in control," Barcelona midfielder Xavi said, per Football Espana. "We have achieved our objective of getting to the quarter final and we’re happy to have done so."
The result sent Barcelona into the quarter-finals for the seventh straight season. City, meanwhile, saw their first foray into the Champions League's knockout stages end at the first hurdle.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini watched the match from the stands after drawing a suspension from UEFA for his remarks following the first leg. City suffered an injury blow midway through the match as striker Sergio Aguero departed at half-time with a suspected hamstring problem.
“We showed character in the team—they went back to the level we were used to before and against a very tough opponent," City assistant Ruben Cousillas, who stood in for Pellegrini, told MCFC.co.uk. "Also, it’s always very difficult to play against a very important team like Barca with 10 men. That’s why we’re frustrated but happy with the team performance."
Both teams entered Wednesday's match with ambitions of winning multiple trophies.
For Barcelona, the quest for silverware still includes both La Liga and the Copa del Rey in addition to the Champions League. Tata Martino's men currently trail league leaders Real Madrid by four points but will have a chance to close the gap when the two teams play at Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 23. In addition, Barcelona and Real Madrid will face off again in the Copa del Rey final on April 16.
Manchester City, meanwhile, trail Premier League leaders Chelsea by nine points—but have three matches in hand. Manuel Pellegrini's men will have a tough task in making up the deficit, however, with trips to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool between now and April 13.
Facing a two-goal deficit from the first leg, Manchester City needed a good start to have any hope of progressing. But Barcelona produced the first clear opening in the 12th minute. Bursting into the box, Messi—who could have won a penalty moments earlier following Lescott's challenge—rounded City goalkeeper Joe Hart but saw his stabbed shot cleared by Vincent Kompany.
Barcelona put the ball in City's net in the 18th minute following a fine team move, but Messi was ruled offside in the buildup. Replays suggested Messi was onside before he squared to Neymar for the finish.
The hosts had another chance in the 39th minute after Neymar collected Andres Iniesta's lofted pass in the middle and took advantage of Aleksandar Kolarov's slip to work himself into position to shoot. But his low drive from the edge of the box on the right went wide of the near post.
City responded with their best attack of the match up to that point in the 41st minute. Yaya Toure lifted a pass over the top for David Silva, who knocked a flying back-heel down for Samir Nasri in the middle of the box. Nasri directed his volleyed shot on target, but Victor Valdes saved.
Barcelona came even closer three minutes later, as Neymar stranded Hart with fine control in the box. With Hart off his line, Neymar directed his shot on goal, but Fernandinho headed clear to keep City level at 0-0 at half-time.
With Aguero leaving the match at half-time, City introduced Edin Dzeko at the break. Dzeko had a half-chance in the 47th minute, but his tame shot from the left was no match for Valdes.
Messi nearly killed off the tie in the 51st minute, hitting the upright with a low shot following a mesmerising run through the midfield. A minute later, Valdes made a sprawling save to tip away Dzeko's header.
City came close again in the 54th minute as Zabaleta volleyed wide. Nasri then shot over the bar three minutes later. But for all of City's attacking intent, their challenge came undone in the 67th minute.
There seemed to be no danger when Lescott slid across the edge of City's box to intercept Cesc Fabregas' pass intended for Messi. But the ball bounced between Lescott's feet and landed in the path of Messi, who took a touch before lifting a simple finish over the stranded Hart for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.
The match produced controversy in the 77th minute as Dzeko went to ground in Barcelona's box following a clumsy challenge by Gerard Pique. The referee waved play on, causing several City players to protest. Zabaleta, who had been booked in the first half, drew a second booking for dissent and was sent off.
City seemed to be reeling, but the visitors pulled level on the night in the 89th minute. Dzeko nodded down a corner for Kompany at the near post, and Kompany tapped in to make it 1-1.
Barcelona weren't finished, though, and Alves finished off the match—and the tie—just a minute later following Iniesta's pull-back in the 90th minute.
"Tonight (Man City) came to try and turn the situation around, while we didn't allow ourselves to feel comfortable in spite of our advantage," Martino told UEFA.com. "We suffered at times; it was predictable that City would have the ball at certain points. We didn't feel at ease when not in possession and we struggled at dead-ball situations."
|Barcelona Player Ratings vs. Man City|
|Alexis Sanchez (for Neymar, 80')||N/A||6|
|Sergi Roberto (for Cesc, 86')||N/A||6|
|Manchester City Player Ratings vs. Barcelona|
|Edin Dzeko (for Aguero, 46')||N/A||8|
|Alvaro Negredo (for Silva, 72')||N/A||6|
|Jesus Navas (for Nasri, 74')||N/A||6|
Barcelona host Osasuna on Sunday in La Liga.
Manchester City play at Hull City on Saturday in the Premier League.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!