Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Barcelona 2-1 Manchester City (agg 4-1): Late Vincent Kompany effort is little consolation as City crash out of Champions League

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12:  A dejected Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (L) reacts following his team's 2-1 defeat during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City  at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: A dejected Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (L) reacts following his team's 2-1 defeat during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, right, goes around Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart to set up a goal for Daniel Alves during a Champions League, round of 16, second leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Referee Stephane Lannoy shows a red card to Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta during a Champions League, round of 16, second leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manuel Pellegrini watches from the stands due to a two-match touchline ban during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at the Nou Camp. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Barcelona fans cheer on their team during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City is shown the yellow card by Referee Stephane Lannoy of France during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: David Silva of Manchester City controls the ball as Daniel Alves of Barcelona closes in during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Edin Dzeko of Manchester City and team mates look dejected after conceding the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Lionel Messi of Barcelona flicks the ball past goalkeeper Joe Hart of Manchester City to score the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City reacts angrily as he is shown the red card by Referee Stephane Lannoy of France during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Lionel Messi of Barcelona has his shot saved by goalkeeper Joe Hart of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester City were outclassed once again by Barcelona as Lionel Messi and Dani Alves both scored to eliminate Manuel Pellegrini's team from the Champions League.

The pair, who both struck in the 2-0 first-leg win, were on target in the second half at the Nou Camp as Barca completed a 4-1 aggregate win to claim their place in the quarter-finals.

City were briefly level at 1-1 after a late Vincent Kompany effort but it proved mere consolation for the visitors, who had Pablo Zabaleta sent off for two bookable offences.

History repeated itself in many ways. It was not only in the identity of the Barcelona goalscorers and the City's reduction to that the game mirrored the first encounter.

Just as in Manchester, there were a number of controversial decisions by the referee.

Stephane Lannoy denied Barcelona a penalty and disallowed a goal for the hosts in the first half, while Edin Dzeko had strong spot-kick claims in the second period.

This time City manager Manuel Pellegrini would have to keep his frustration to himself having been handed a touchline ban for comments about the first-leg official.

City deviated from their regular 4-4-2 formation and bulked up midfield by bringing in James Milner.

But with David Silva operating behind lone striker Sergio Aguero, they acknowledged the need to attack.

An early goal would have brought them back into the tie and they started confidently.

Milner broke free down the left and pulled the ball across the box for Silva but the Spaniard declined to shoot and a chance was lost.

City made a better job of breaking up Barcelona's possession than they did in the last meeting but it was still a tough task and they conceded a number of fouls.

Fernandinho, Aleksandar Kolarov and - critically - Zabaleta were all booked for bad challenges in the first period and all will now miss City's next game in European competition.

Joleon Lescott, a replacement for the already suspended Martin Demichelis was perhaps lucky to escape a caution as well after bundling over Messi.

The England defender enjoyed even more fortune when he brought Messi down again inside the area after eight minutes.

French referee Lannoy let him off and there was a further reprieve for City when Neymar put the ball into the net only for Jordi Alba to harshly ruled offside.

City had another scare when Messi weaved his way into the area and beat Joe Hart but he moved wide and Kompany cleared.

City applied some pressure but Silva missed the target from the edge of the box.

They escaped again as Neymar deftly headed past Kolarov to open up a chance but his low shot hit the side-netting. Hart then parried a quickfire Xavi shot.

City created a clear-cut chance just before the interval when Silva cleverly flicked back Yaya Toure's ball but Samir Nasri shot straight at Victor Valdes.

The half ended with Fernandinho heading off the line from Neymar after the Brazilian had been put through following more Messi trickery.

City's coaching staff - making the decisions with Pellegrini confined to a watching brief - sent on Dzeko for the ineffective Aguero at half-time.

The Bosnian immediately added teeth to the attack and tested Valdes with a powerful strike.

But City were still vulnerable at the back and they again rode their luck when Messi seized possession and slid a fine shot past Hart but against the post.

City chanced their arm more and a well-placed looping header from Dzeko was superbly clawed out of the top corner by Valdes.

Zabaleta also found himself in space as Kolarov crossed but dragged his shot well wide.

Barca sensed the threat and simply upped their game. After firing wide Messi then made no mistake after 67 minutes as he pounced on Lescott's failed attempt to clear a Cesc Fabregas pass and dinked the ball over Hart.

City tried to fight on but their task became even tougher when Zabaleta was dismissed.

Dzeko charged into the area and had strong claims for a penalty as he went down under a Gerard Pique challenge.

City's players were furious nothing was given but Zabaleta took his protests too far and was given his marching orders with a second yellow card.

Kompany pulled one back after Dzeko won a header at a corner but it was too little too late and Alves again caught them on the break in the dying moments.

KOMPANY: WE COULD GIVE NOTHING MORE

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany promised his team had given their all in defeat to Barcelona and said they would return to the Champions League next season not fearing anyone.

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves both scored again as Barca advanced to the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win in the second leg at the Nou Camp to progress 4-1 on aggregate.

Just as in the first leg, when Martin Demichelis was dismissed, Manuel Pellegrini's team were reduced to 10 men thanks to a red card for Pablo Zabaleta.

But City goalscorer Kompany felt his players could walk away with their heads held high, having put in a spirited display - in contrast to their weekend FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan.

Asked if it would be hard for City to lift themselves ahead of their return to Barclays Premier League action, the Belgium defender said on Sky Sports 1: "No. If anything, it should give us motivation.

"The way we played against Wigan, the performance today was completely different.

"Only the winners get remembered, but it's only the third year ever for Manchester City in the Champions League. I'm looking at this and I don't see why next year we should fear anyone."

Edin Dzeko charged into the area and had strong claims for a penalty as he went down under a Gerard Pique challenge.

City's players were furious nothing was given, but Zabaleta took his protests too far and was given his marching orders with a second yellow card 12 minutes from time.

"For me, it was a clear penalty," Kompany said. "He is in a position to shoot and his triggering foot is getting caught - it takes the chance away.

"But we can discuss stuff like this - you never know whether it would have put us in a position to qualify."

He added: "I think I speak for the team in saying we've got nothing left in the tank.

"We gave everything. A few times we could have scored, and obviously that would have changed the game.

"Going for a second time down to 10 men after it was a clear penalty, it's not easy conditions to come and play against a strong team.

"Over the course of two games, it's funny I say this, but whenever there was 11 players (against 11) there wasn't much between the two teams.

"Obviously, Messi is an incredible player and whenever he has the ball danger can happen - but outside of that we had huge changes. If we score, we're looking at a completely different game."

Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas acknowledged the Catalan giants had not been at their best recently - they have slipped four points behind arch rivals Real Madrid in the Primera Division - but said they would take heart from this result.

"It was a very tight game, playing against a world-class team," the former Arsenal captain told Sky Sports 1.

"We knew it was going to be difficult. The 2-0 was a great result over there. It's never easy to go to Manchester and win the way we did it.

"Apparently, there was a penalty not awarded and the goal from Neymar in the first half was onside. But we take a lot of positives.

"I think we played a lot better than the last few games. We were not at our best and today is a way to lift the spirit of the team.

"We go home happy. For the last couple of games, we could not have said that because we were not happy going back home after some negative results.

"I think we played a good game today against a class team and we are proud of it."

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