Raheem Sterling marvelled at Barcelona’s ruthless streak in attack after the LaLiga champions ran out 4-0 winners over Manchester City at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi gave Barca a 17th-minute lead in the Champions League Group C encounter, which ran swiftly away from City after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo got himself comically sent off early in the second period.
In-form England winger Sterling posed plenty of questions for a Barcelona defence, but the sight of Neymar recovering from a missed penalty to complete the scoring after Messi claimed the match ball told a painful story for Pep Guardiola on his return to Catalonia with the Premier League leaders.
“It was an interesting game – it was a top team we played, we played really well at times and we could have scored a few goals of our own,” Sterling told City’s official website after featuring in an attack that did not include benched top scorer Sergio Aguero.
“We handed them some goals as well, and with the sending off it was really disappointing because at that point we were into the game.
“With a team like this we’ve got to have 11 men on the field working and pressing hard but that wasn’t the case and they punished us, so we have to pick ourselves up and go again.”
City are a point ahead of third-place Borussia Monchengladbach and five shy of leaders Barca before the return clash at the Etihad Stadium on November 1 and Sterling added: “It’s a big difference when you give the ball to those players up front – Messi, Neymar and [Luis] Suarez – because they are going to punish you they are going to score goals every time they get a chance.
“That’s what we needed to cut out… giving the ball to those guys in areas like that because they are ruthless in front of goal.
“We tried to play football like the manager wanted us to, we made a few mistakes but we’ve got to go again, we know we are a good team and we know exactly what we can do.
“We’ll continue trying to play out from the back and continue trying to do things because it is working and we gave them a good game.”