Manchester City put in an absolutely commanding performance against Spanish champions Barcelona as Pep Guardiola recorded his first-ever victory over his former club.
The Citizens have improved their chances of reaching the knockouts significantly with an inspiring display which saw them come from goal down to record a 3-1 victory in the end.
Our in-depth match report is right here:
Form Guide & Team News
Having alternated between draws and defeats in six straight matches prior to trip to West Brom, Manchester City warmed up for Barcelona game in style thanks to a compelling 4-0 triumph over the Baggies last weekend.
It was a statement of intent from Pep Guardiola and his team who have endured troubling couple of weeks in all fronts.
With only one win in their three opening group stage matches in the Champions League, Manchester City welcomed Barcelona with great pressure on their shoulders, unlike the Catalans who won all of their three opening matches in the elite competition.
Spanish champions travelled to England on the back of four successive victories looking to extend their positive run against Manchester City which stretched to five straight wins prior to the Tuesday’s match-up.
Both sides had plenty of selection worries heading into the clash. Pep Guardiola welcomed back Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero back to the fold, while Claudio Bravo was suspended for the occasion.
Luis Enrique, on the other side, experienced a lot of problems both at the back and in the midfield where he will have to do without Andres Iniesta for a lengthy period of time apparently.
Both Manchester City and Barcelona opened the match cautiously and without any chances for the first ten minutes.
All of the players did show willingness to commit in the final third of the field, with defence lines being forced to work hard to prevent potential problems for respective goalkeepers.
Fifteen minutes in the game Barcelona slowly started to gain possession and build their recognisable style of play as Manchester City struggled to get the ball out of their own half. Despite the pressure from the away side, the Citizens attempted to get their foot in the game and were seemingly just getting closer to ter Stegen’s goal when Barcelona punished them cruelly.
The Catalans made the breakthrough with Messi halting the Manchester City’s attack deep in his own half sending the ball to Neymar who raced clear down the left before sending a fine return pass to Messi who covered great space to get into the position to slot the ball into the bottom corner.
The Citizens refused to go down at the first blow and continued to drive forward looking to get back in the game.
A couple of half-chances later with five minutes left on the clock in the first half, Pep Guardiola’s men gave Barcelona a taste of their medicine as their high pressure resulted in Barcelona error in the final third of the pitch. Barcelona’s mess on the edge of the box was picked by Aguero and passed on to Sterling, whose low cross was smashed in by Gundogan.
Final stages of the first half proved to be highly entertaining and eventful with Manchester City earning a valuable and much deserved draw in the first 45 minutes.
The game did not lose intensity after the interval as both sides pushed hard straight from the off, with Manchester City putting a lot of pressure on Barcelona who found themselves in an unusual position early in the second half.
Pep Guardiola’s men have shown great response after going a goal down and their relentless pressure on Barcelona yielded results less than ten minutes inside the second half.
Luis Enrique’s men struggled to get their foot on the ground as City edged closer and closer to goal before completely overturning the result thanks to a goal from Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian international took advantage of a free kick in a dangerous area with the absolute stunner to put his team 2-1 up.
Barcelona were pushed on the ropes near around the hour mark in the game with Pep Guardiola’s men pulling all the right moves to frustrate the Spanish champions into losing possession in the middle of the pitch, not allowing them to break closer to Caballero’s goal.
The game at Etihad quickly became an openly contested affair with chances flying on both sides of the pitch.
Barcelona opened up completely having conceded the second goal of the game which allowed Citizens to break forward in a couple of more occasions with Kevin De Bruyne once again coming closest to scoring. Kolarov pushed a strong and direct pass from the left but the Belgian failed to latch on it just yards in front of ter Stegen’s goal.
Barcelona replied through Gomes who picked up on Suarez’s back pass in space but only to smash the ball against the crossbar after 65 minutes of play.
Apart from that particular chance which could have saved the match for Barcelona, the Catalans were completely lost in the remainder of the second half. The Catalans were all over the place with Leo Messi silent and almost completely invisible for the visitors.
Citizens’ pressure paid off once more after 75 minutes when a quick counter attack and Navas’ cross which had hit Aguero and bounced kindly to Ilkay Gundogan, who had no problems tapping it in almost an open goal.
Manchester City released the throttle pedal a bit in the closing stages of the game which allowed Barcelona to pass and probe, ultimately without success for Luis Enrique’s men who succumbed to their first Champions League defeat this season.
- Barcelona were slightly more dominant with possession 60% to City’s 40%
- Hosts fired 13 shots on goal to Barcelona’s 7
- Citizens ended their 5-match losing run against Barcelona
- Ilkay Gundogan completed back-to-back braces for City in a week’s time
- Kevin De Bruyne has been involved in 6 goals (3G, 3A) for City this season
MAN CITY: Caballero 7 – Zabaleta 7, Otamendi 7.5, Stones 7, Kolarov 7.5 – Fernandinho 7.5 (Fernando 6.5) – Sterling 6.5 (Navas 7), De Bruyne 8.5 (Nolito -), Gundogan 8.5, Silva 6.5 – Aguero 7.5
Unused subs: Clichy, Gunn, Iheanacho, Kompany
BARCELONA: ter Stegen 6 – Roberto 6, Mascherano 6, Umtiti 6.5, Digne 5.5 – Rakitic 6 (Turan 6), Busquets 7, Gomes 7 (Rafinha 6) – Messi 6.5, Suarez 6, Neymar 6
Unused subs: Cillessen, Paco, Nili, Marlon, Suarez D.
REFEREE: Viktor Kassai
Other results this evening
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Atletico Madrid 2-1 FK Rostov
Borussia M’gladbach 1-1 Celtic
Basel 1-2 PSG
Benfica 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
Ludogorets 2-3 Arsenal
PSV 1-2 Bayern Munich