Manchester City FC traveled to the Nou Camp today for the second leg of their final-16 Champions League matchup against Barcelona. The result was very similar to the first leg in Manchester as Barcelona outclassed City to win 2-1 and 4-1 on aggregate over the two legs. Barcelona were proven the better team with their second-half effort, after both sides failed to score through nearly three-quarters of the match. City showed they were able to compete, however, as they had some good chances and were able to score this time around.
Lionel Messi once again showed his greatness as he scored the go-ahead goal and was all over the field the entire game terrorizing the City defense. His passing and movement were sublime as usual and City showed no signs of being able to slow him down. In the first half, he was fouled in the box and was not given the penalty. This proved to be one of many mistakes by the referee. This did not slow Messi down, however, and he continued to challenge the City back line. Near the beginning of the second half, he created a great chance for himself only to be denied by the post. About 10 minutes later he made the most of a bad mistake on the part of City defender Joleon Lescott, and pounced on a loose ball right in front of net to give Barcelona the lead.
The referee did not have the best game and it showed in his inconsistent calls mostly favoring Barcelona. This showed in the 78th minute, as he did not give City a penalty after Gerard Pique brought down Edin Dzeko from behind in the box. City players were outraged at this and let the referee know how they felt ultimately leading to Pablo Zabaleta being sent off with his second yellow card for arguing with the ref. One person who had to be extra frustrated with the refereeing was City manager Manuel Pellegrini who was banned from the touch-line for two matches for complaining about the officiating in the first leg. Not all the calls benefitted Barcelona as they were denied the first of the two obvious penalties not given and scored a goal that was disallowed because of a offside call that replays showed was the wrong call.
In the 89th minute City were able to equalize through a Vincent Kompany goal. Barcelona and keeper Victor Valdes petitioned for a offside call but were denied and the call proved to be correct. It was too little too late, as they still needed to score twice with only ten men to progress to the quarterfinals. Only about a minute later Barcelona robbed City of any lingering hope as Dani Alves powered in the winning goal. After the match City players continued to jaw with the referees about their frustration over the missed calls.
Questions have been asked this season about Barcelona’s quality and ability to win trophies, and outclassing Manchester City today will go a long way to proving they are still among Europe’s elite. The draw for the quarterfinals will be crucial for Barcelona’s progression in the Champions League, but right now they are looking like one of the favorites of the competition.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius