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Manchester City 0 Barcelona 2: Catalans conquer City

It came as little surprise when Barcelona got Manchester City's number last night.

Daniel Alves slots the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Joe Hart to put Barcelona 2-0 up in their last-16 tie with Manchester City. Picture: Getty
Daniel Alves slots the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Joe Hart to put Barcelona 2-0 up in their last-16 tie with Manchester City. Picture: Getty

There is often a temptation to reduce matches which involve the Catalans to statistics after all, although there were perhaps only two which could be considered truly relevant inside the Etihad Stadium.

One concerned a player who has been named World Player of the Year four times. The other spoke of his side, which scored two goals against a team set up to give them nothing. Lionel Messi's penalty and a low finish from Daniel Alves put Barca in control of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Both goals were scored in the second half. This was testament to Manuel Pellegrini, who positioned his City players to restrict the space and their visitors. It is also irrelevant; City must now go to Camp Nou and win by three clear goals to progress into the quarter-finals.

The Barclays Premier League side will travel light since Martin Demichelis was sent off after sliding in on Messi to concede a penalty. The Argentine had earned plaudits during the first half for his role in repelling Barca, sticking his nose, his head and the odd boot anywhere it wasn't wanted.

He then reprised his role as something of a liability by bringing Messi crashing to the ground, albeit his compatriot did appear to be fouled outside the penalty area initially. None the less, Demichelis had gone from defender to dumpling in just nine second-half minutes.

By the time he had trudged dolefully down the tunnel, Messi had clipped a delicate penalty past Joe Hart.

It was a light touch to beat the City goalkeeper but it felt like a heavy blow to the home side. They had been diligent in defence and a nuisance on the break, with Pellegrini instructing his forwards to lie in wait until there was space behind to exploit. Alvara Negredo had a couple of shots saved by Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes, while David Silva went close with another chance which was beaten away by Valdes.

Barca's dominance in possession can make such efforts to appear as acts of impertinence. The response was decisive - Gerard Pique had an effort ruled out for offside but there was no debate about Alves' shot in the final minute as he placed the ball between Hart's legs.

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