The game began with an overly cautious host ceding possession at a rate that had the visitors with a 73% to 27% advantage within the first ten minutes. The game remained the same throughout the first half with but a few City forays into Barca territory. The match was a nil-nil tie as the players broke for half-time.
The second half had the feel of a repeat but with a touch of a City resurgence. But, at the 54th minute the diminutive Argentine, Lionel Messi, was on a breakaway and was brought down from behind by Argentine defender Martin Demichelis just outside the City box. But the referee saw it inside. The proper call, a foul and a red card, was made, but the sanctioned penalty should not have (http://bit.ly/1cWIXCZ).
Messi coolly placed the ball, with pace, down the middle as Joe Hart dove to his left, Barca 1, City 0. Playing the rest of the second half down a man, City nevertheless had the better chances and a volleyed pass by Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta to Spanish striker David Silva who chested and volleyed on the run from inside the Barca box should have scored, but Victor Valdez was on and made a great save. Perhaps if Silva had been able to volley with his left…
At the 74th minute, Brazilian Neymar came in to replace Chilean Alexis Sanchez and within minutes made his mark with a pretty give and go on the right wing with Dani Alves. The Brazilians seemed to know what each other was going to do well ahead of each pass and Alves was left alone to face a charging Hart who forgot to get down low enough. The nutmeg score made it Barca 2, City 0, at the 90th minute. A win two away goals for the Catalans makes it quite the uphill battle for City who must do or die at the Camp Nou March 12th.
But truth be told City’s Chilean coach, Manuel Pellegrini, had it wrong from the get go. He had the top scoring team in the Premier League playing full-out defense with but the occasional counter until they fell behind, by which time it was too late as they were also a man down. Had City played their usual attacking game, albeit without the likes of James Milner or Sergio Aguero, this game might have had a different result as the Catalan’s defense is still their Achilles heel.
Also today, visiting PSG beat Bayern Leverkusen 4-0 (http://bit.ly/1feGR5B, all but settling that tie. Tomorrow AC Milan and Atletico Madrid face off at the San Siro while Bayern Munich visits Arsenal.