Manchester City vs. Barcelona: Final score 0-2, City in trouble after a disappointing first leg

Clive Brunskill

Two mistakes in less than a minute cost Manchester City dearly in a first leg loss against Barcelona.

A span of one minute early in the second half proved the undoing for Manchester City, who fell 2-0 against Barcelona in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg. Lionel Messi was brought down by Martin Demichelis, earning the defender and red card and giving Barca a penalty that put the Spanish giants in front. Dani Alves scored late to give Barca two away goals as the tie heads to Barcelona in three weeks.

The opening 20 minutes of the match featured a ton of Barcelona possession but little in terms of substance from them in the attacking third. City did a good job of clogging up the passing lanes and as they settled in to the match, they began to challenge Barca and press forward. Álvaro Negredo and Yaya Touré both caused some problems for the Barca defense but the best chance came in the 18th minute when Negredo's speculative shot from an acute angle rolled across the face of goal, though it never really threatened to go in.

Barca's suspect set piece defending was tested in the 25th minute after City earned a free kick just to the left of the 18-yard box. David Silva's ball into the area popped into the air off first contact as Victor Valdés went down in the process of trying to punch the ball. The Barca goalkeeper recovered quickly, though, and was able to get the ball under control right near the line. City were called for a foul in the scramble, but it was a scary moment for the visitors.

Barca's first good chance on goal came in the 32nd minute when Xavi had a rare moment of open space in front him as he dribbled on the edge of the City box. Xavi took the opportunity and put a shot on frame that Joe Hart was able to parry up into the air and scoop up after it came back down.

In the 53rd minute everything went wrong for Manchester City. Jesus Navas, working down the right wing, got disposed and took a dive trying to get the referee to reward him a cheap free kick. Instead, Barcelona counter-attacked with Andrés Iniesta pushing forward and sending a through ball to Messi.

Messi raced past Martin Demichelis, collecting the ball and moving in toward Hart. The City defender recovered, but missed the ball completely with his sliding tackle, taking out Messi's legs and conceding a penalty. Even worse, as the last defender, the referee showed him a straight red card. Messi promptly beat Hart on the PK, giving Barca a 1-0 lead and an away goal.

City kept fighting and nearly pulled even in the 77th minute when David Silva skillfully controlled a cross in the Barca box with his chest, bringing the ball down for volleyed effort. The shot looked good to find the back of the net but Valdés was able to get down and make the save, preserving Barca's lead.

All the attacking opened themselves up and in the 90th minute Barca made them pay with their second away goal. Dani Alves took a short ball from Neymar, moved by Gaël Clichy who slipped trying to cut off the run, and beat Hart through the legs to double the lead and severely damage City's hopes going into the second leg.

The victory is Barcelona's first in the city of Manchester.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Navas (Nasri 58'), Touré, Fernandinho, Kolarov (Lescott 57'), Silva, Negredo (Džeko 74')

Goals: None

Barcelona: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Fábregas (Roberto 86'), Sánchez (Neymar 74'), Messi, Iniesta

Goals: Messi (54'), Alves (90')

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