In a very exciting second leg between FC Barceloan and Manchester City, Barça repeated the feat from Etihad stadium and put two into Joe Hart's net. Scorers for Barcelona were Lionel Messi and Dani Alves. But unlike in the game in Manchester, Barcelona weren't able to keep a clean sheet, with Vincent Kompany scoring the lone goal for the Premier League side.
Shots on Target
Gerardo Martino once again turned to his "big game" lineup that includes all of Barcelona's best midfielders, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas. In fact, Tata Martino made just a single change in the starting XI from the first leg, with Neymar replacing Alexis Sanchez up front. Manuel Pellegrini meanwhile made a few more changes with Joleon Lescott, James Milner, Samir Nasri and Sergio Agüero all starting after sitting out the first leg. Pellegrini was also absent from the bench as he was forced to watch the game from the stands after receiving a ban from UEFA.
Manchester City started the game from midfield and immediately launched good pressure towards the Barcelona net. City found it relatively easy to get to withing 30 yards of Victor Valdes' goal, but they ran out of ideas of how to get through the well positioned Barcelona defense. It was clear from early in the game that the Catalans weren't going to sit back and wait, but it was also clear that everybody was going to be involved in defending, even Lionel Messi, who made a nice play early to dispossess Agüero.
After they weathered the early pressure the Catalans started to assert their domination in attack. City struggled the most with the sheer pace of Messi who created a couple scoring chances by himself, which including a brilliant run through the defense. He even got past Joe Hart thanks to a lucky bounce, but he was so far wide the he couldn't get a shot past the defender that was guarding the post.
Barcelona also had a very strong claim for a penalty kick after Lescott brought down Messi in the box. The Argentine received the ball just inside the box and played the ball to his left with his first touch. Lescott stuck his foot out and clearly caught Messi and tripped him up, but the referee waved play on.
Even though Barcelona were the more dangerous side at this point, City still had chances to score the opening goal. Milner, in fact, had a marvelous opportunity to do just that in the 17th minute after a nice pass from Alexandar Kolarov, but the England international missed the net.
Two minutes later it appeared that Barcelona drew first blood after some lovely passing in the final third. However, this time the referee blew the whistle for offside even though the replay showed that Jordi Alba was onside. Three Barcelona players were offside, but Alba was clearly not. Cesc Fabregas brilliantly found the onrushing Alba on the left who squared it to the middle where Neymar was left with a simple tap-in, but with the whistle blown the game remained scoreless.
The pace of the game picked up after that a bit, but both teams struggled to create chances. Actually, both defenses appeared to tighten up their ranks as both defenses made several good looking plays that prevented the opposing side to get a good look on goal. The next good looking chance didn't come until the 35th minute when City attacked in numbers against an outnumbered Barcelona defense, but David Silva missed the net from 20 yards out.
Barcelona countered that with two good scoring chances of their own. First Neymar was sent on a run by Andres Iniesta, but the Brazilian's shot was tipped wide by Hart. From the ensuing corner kick Messi found Xavi in the middle, but his shot was also brilliantly saved by Hart.
The back and forth action continued as two minutes later is was City's turn to get a good look in goal. Yaya Toure played an over the top ball to Silva who back-heeled it to a wide open Samir Nasri, but the Frenchman's shot went straight down the middle, into the hands of the waiting Valdes.
The last chance of the first half went Barcelona's way, but once again there was no reward. Messi again ran through the visitors' defensive line and found Neymar. Neymar drew Hart way out of his goal and patiently waited for his shot, which he took after Hart went down, but the shot was cleared off the line by Fernandinho.
Both teams had good chances to score in the first half, but Barcelona had better looking ones and more of them. The Catalans even had a goal wrongly ruled out, but the game remained scoreless, which meant that City still had a chance to steal the promotion to the next round from Barcelona's hands.
Barcelona started the second half with the same line-up they started with, but Manchester City made their first substitution as Edin Džeko replaced Aguero. And Džeko had almost immediate impact on the game as after a game of pinball on the edge of the Barcelona box the ball fell right at the feet of the Bosnian, but his 18-yard shot was well saved by Valdes.
Continuing the theme from first half the next chance went to Barcelona and the one after that went City's way. First Neymar played Messi through, and after Messi turned Lescott inside out the Argentine got denied by the post. On the very next play Kolarov sent a perfect cross right on the head of Džeko whose header/lob looked destined for the top corner, but Valdes brilliantly kept the ball from crossing the line.
Barcelona then created some danger in front of Hart, but all the Catalans had to show for was a yellow card to Cesc. A much more dangerous sequence came on the other side of the pitch where Barcelona just couldn't clear the ball away. That led to a great chance for Pablo Zabaleta, who had plenty of space in the middle of the penalty box, but missed the goal altogether.
In the second half the visitors started to press the ball-carrier much higher up the pitch compared to the first. A tactic that caused Barcelona a lot of problems in play build-up and in turn allowed City to start their attacks deep in Barcelona territory. Not uncommon were situations where there were more players in white on Barcelona's half when the Catalans had the ball.
But the tides started to turn a bit after the one hour mark as Barcelona once again started to look more dangerous in attack. When Barcelona managed to make their way through the high pressure the Catalans had good numbers in attack. And the Blaugrana finally took advantage of that in the 67th minute when Cesc looked to pass the ball through the back-line. However, Lescott appeared to pick the ball out, but he let it slide through to Messi who was now behind the line. One-on-one with Hart, Messi went to his trademark move, the lob, to put Barcelona in front.
With time running out on the visitors they quickly made two substitutions in a short span and changed to a 4-4-2, after playing most of the game in a 4-2-3-1. First Álvaro Negredo replaced Silva and then, two minutes later, Jesús Navas came on in place of Nasri.
Manchester City needed three goals now, but they nearly got their first 78th when Gerard Pique defended poorly on Džeko and brought him down in the box. But like in the first half the referee, Stéphane Lannoy, didn't point to the spot, however, the visitors reacted very differently compared to Barcelona in the first half and angrily protested. As a result, Zabaleta, who was the most vocal picked up his second yellow card and was sent off the pitch.
With the man advantage Barcelona now looked in a very comfortable position to ease into the next round. Tata Martino in a six minute span replaced Neymar and Cesc with Alexis Sanchez and Sergi Roberto. During that time span Barça also had two good mid-range shots on goal, from Cesc and Xavi, but Hart was both times on the spot.
In the dying moments of the game, in the 89th minute Manchester City scored the consolidation goal they were looking for ever since Zabaleta's dismissal. Obviously, it came off a corner kick with Džeko finding Kompany barely onside, he was played onside by Roberto, and the Belgian tipped the ball in from five yards out.
But Barcelona had no plans of sharing the scoreline with their opponents as about 90 seconds later Iniesta was played through. He went on to round the goalkeeper and found Alves all alone in the middle. Alves didn't have an easy job from there as there were four City players on the goal-line but the Brazilian's shot was powerful enough that it found its way through the bodies and into the net.
That caused an explosion at the Camp Nou, and that is the type of goal that can really lift a team that found itself in a bit of a funk in recent weeks. Winning both legs of the tie Barcelona advanced into the next round of the competition, but who the opponent will be is still unknown. The draw for the Quarter-Finals will be held on 21 March.
First on the calendar for Barcelona is therefore their La Liga match against Osasuna on Sunday. With the game being played at the Camp Nou Barça fans can anticipate the game with a lot more ease than if it was away from home. But with the league out of Barcelona's control all the Catalan-side can do is win out, starting on Sunday, and hope they get some help from other teams.
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