Messi destroys Man City

October 19, 2016
The Spain international was replaced by Lucas Digne as Barcelona were forced into an early substitution

Guardiola had said he would ask his team to match Barcelona for possession. It was ambitious but for a short while it worked.

Early in the game, the right-hand side looked as though it might be productive for City.

On a couple of occasions, Raheem Sterling ran into just enough space to deliver a cross, while a move down the other flank in the ninth minute saw David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne combine to find Nolito in the penalty area. Briefly, the Spaniard had a little space but he couldn’t use it to engineer a shot at goal.

Messi had endured a poor start but nobody was surprised to see him spring to life to nudge Barcelona in front.

He began the move down the right, inviting a couple of reckless challenges, yet there seemed little danger as he scuttled into the box to seek a return pass from Andres Iniesta. But when the ball bounced loose from Pablo Zabaleta’s challenge, Fernandinho slipped over on the slick turf, Nicolas Otamendi was caught on his heels and Messi picked up possession, rounded Bravo and scored.

Encouraged by the goal, Barcelona’s dangerous players came to life and City struggled to cope as Luis Suarez and Neymar began to create angles with Messi and Iniesta.

Guardiola watches on from the sidelines as the action continues to gather apace at the Nou Camp

City had a great chance to equalise when Ilkay Gundogan carved through the Barca defence before seeing his shot saved

The Germany international reacts in disbelief as his brilliant solo run is ended by Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Barcelona were forced into a second substitution in the first half when Pique was hurt in this David Silva challenge

Silva, who was booked for the foul, apologises to Pique as the latter hobbles off the pitch 

Kevin De Bruyne runs at the Barcelona defence as the English outfit go on the attack during Wednesday's encounter

The 25-year-old was in the thick of the action soon again as he tried to avoid the challenge of Sergio BusquetsThe 25-year-old was in the thick of the action soon again as he tried to avoid the challenge of Busquets
City forward Nolito beats makeshift right back Javier Mascherano to an aerial challenge

Just before half-time City had a great chance to equalise but John Stones could only head wide of the far post

Suarez struck the side netting in the 21st minute after Messi confused Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan before Bravo dashed recklessly from goal to deny a breaking Neymar by a matter of inches.

Barcelona had already lost Jordi Alba to injury early on and as half-time neared they lost another defender, Gerard Pique. City, meanwhile, began to find a way back and twice could have equalised.

Gundogan was a busy presence in the City midfield and his skilful run and shot appeared to have brought an equaliser, only for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to intervene with his left hand. Then John Stones headed a free-kick wide when unmarked.

City suddenly looked refreshed. Having said that, Barcelona almost punished a defensive lapse in the 45th minute as Suarez burst through. Bravo stuck out his left leg to deny him and then reacted well to jump up and touch the loose ball over the bar.

Things got worse for City early on in the second half when Bravo was sent off for handball outside his penalty area
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez appeals for handball as his goalbound effort was illegally blocked by Bravo

Serbian referee Milorad Mazic shows City's No 1 a straight red card for his handball offence

Bravo trudges down the tunnel as the Premier League outfit have to regroup with 10 men

Guardiola instructs Silva from a tactical point of view as he looks to re-jig his side following Bravo's red card

Messi curled home the Spanish club's second of the night with this near post finish from the edge of the penalty area

He was a picture of happiness following his second goal of the night - taking his tally to five in the Champions League

And on 69 minutes the diminutive forward was in a joyous mood again as he completed his hat-trick

Aguero did appear at the start of the second half but only to warm up on the touchline. Meanwhile, City showed more promise as De Bruyne twice reached the byline to provide dangerous crosses.

This continued be an odd night and the most oddest was yet to come. Samuel Umtiti headed a corner wide when unmarked in the 51st minute before Bravo’s aberration a couple of minutes later.

It was a horror moment for the former Barcelona goalkeeper.

Still, the contribution of Suarez is worth noting. In chasing down what seemed a lost cause, he prevented Bravo taking a touch to control the ball. That, in turn, led to the dreadful error and the red card that essentially ended the contest.

Barcelona didn’t score from the free-kick but were two ahead just after the hour. De Bruyne was hustled off the ball in his own half, the ball was fed forwards to Messi and the No 10 turned inside Aleksandar Kolarov to score from the edge of the area with his left foot.

Their third was another gift. Gundogan, hitherto impressive, sent Suarez clear with a misplaced pass in the 68th minute and the Uruguayan squared for Messi to roll his hat-trick goal into an empty net.

Neymar took an awful penalty, allowing Caballero to save, after Messi drew a scything foul from Kolarov in the 86th minute. But there was still time for the Brazilian to embarrass Otamendi and Stones on route to scoring his team’s fourth a couple of minutes later.


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