Manchester recorded a memorable win over Spanish giants last night in the Champions League, coming back from one goal behind to emerge with a 3-1 victory
The match was more or less evenly poised, with the home side making things difficult in the first 20 mins for the visitors, but MSN showed their ruthlessness with a quick counter ending up with Messi scoring the opening goal.
The goal seemed to deflate Manchester City, as the Blaugrana’s began to control the proceedings after taking the lead.
In the 38th min, Pep made a tactical tweak swapping Silva and De Bruyne’s position, with the Spanish playmaker now on the left and the Belgian as the second striker behind Aguero.
The change immediately reaped rewards as Silva pressed Sergi Roberto into a pass which was intercepted by Aguero, who then played it to Sterling, who turned provider with a perfect pass for Gundogan to level the scores.
The English side took the lead through an exquisite De Bruyne free-kick after Silva was fouled by Busquets a few yards outside the penalty box.
Gundogan completed the scoreline with his second goal of the night from a City counter which was arose after Aguero robbed Messi off the ball near City’s penalty box. De Bruyne played a pass between the right channel for Navas, who crossed and ball appeared to come off Aguero’s hand to fall perfectly at the feet of Gundogan to score.
Here’s how TheHardTackle rated the players based upon their performance in the match –
Willy Caballero: 7/10
The goalkeeper was rarely called into action throughout the game, but did the job whenever required. Didn’t rush when playing out from the back and knew when he had to punt the ball into the stands. Couldn’t do much for Messi’s goal.
Pablo Zabaleta: 7.5/10
The Argentine was a doubt for the match, but was later deemed fit to start. Neymar and Digne did trouble him in the first half, but Pablo put in a spirited performance in the second half, largely subduing the Brazilian forward.
Nicolas Otamendi: 5/10
Otamendi was probably City’s most undisciplined player. Got attracted to the ball rather sticking to his man, turned twice by Andre Gomes and was embarrassingly nutmegged by Luis Suarez.
John Stones: 6.5/10
John Stones had a mixed bag. Made two crucial blocks in the first half when the team were a goal down and was very positive in possession. In the second half, after some good pressing work, passed the ball back from Barcelona’s half which was intercepted by Luis Suarez, which culminated into Gomes hitting the woodwork from an open goal.
Aleksander Kolarov: 7/10
A very solid display from the Serbian. Didn’t make any rash challenges and only ventured forward when he had too. De Bruyne almost scored from his excellent cross in the second half.
Fernandinho was pressed heavily by Barcelona’s midfield, and got dispossessed a few times in the first half, but usually won the ball due to his athleticism. His excellent work-rate meant plenty of Barcelona’s attacks were stopped in their tracks. Had to be taken off at 60 mins due to a knock.
Ilkay Gundogan: 9/10 (MOTM)
A complete all-round display from the German, working tirelessly on both ends of pitch. Dominated the midfield, and showed Lampard-like movements with his late runs in the box. Deservedly ended the match with a double, making it 4 goals and 1 assist in his last two games.
David Silva: 8/10
The Spaniard put in a great shift, running and harrowing the Barcelona’s backline, forcing Sergi Roberto into a mistake which led to Manchester City’s equalizer. In the second half, he won the ball on numerous occasions in midfield to initiate the counter-attacks.
Raheem Sterling: 7.5/10
Manchester City’s brightest player in the first 45 mins, should have been awarded a penalty but was rather farcely booked for a dive. Responded by making a fine pass for Gundogan’s first goal. Had few good moments in the second half, with his direct runs, but was hauled off for Navas in the 71st minute as Pep looked for more defensive cover on the right.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8.5/10
The Belgian wasn’t involved much in the game in the first 40 mins or so, but once Pep swapped his side with Silva, Kevin began to take authority of the game. Scored with an excellent free-kick to help City take the lead. Barcelona just couldn’t handle De Bruyne on the transition.
Sergio Aguero: 8.5/10
Aguero did all he could bar scoring. Much was speculated regarding his poor off the ball work, but the Argentine worked incredibility hard without the ball. Was instrumental in the equalizer while unintentionally ended up making the assist for City’s third goal; though needs to pointed out Kun robbed Messi of the ball which instigated the move for the goal.
Was brought on for Fernandinho for the last 30 mins, and did the task of shutting the game down with relative ease.
Jesus Navas: 6.5/10
Provided an added layer of protection on the right side. Produced a fine cross for the third goal, which bounced off Aguero to fall perfectly for Gundogan, who scored.
No time to judge, as the forward came on in the 89th min.
Ter Stegen: 6/10
Looked at his usual ease on the ball, even when City pressed high up the pitch. Can’t be blamed much for the first goal but should have done better for De Bruyne’s freekick. Got fingertips to Navas’ cross, but couldn’t prevent Gundogan from scoring the third.
Sergi Roberto: 4.5/10
Enjoyed a good first 35 mins or so, but Silva pressed him into a mistake which led to City’s equalizer. The mistake completely changed the game. Sergi looked nervous since there after.
Javier Mascherano: 6/10
Had a few moments of trouble but wasn’t necessarily bad in the game, Still got stretched thanks to City’s relentless attacks from wide areas.
Samuel Umtiti: 5.5/10
Was lucky to not have been conceded a penalty after a poor tackle on Raheem Sterling in the box. The French defender wasn’t up to his usual solid self.
Lucas Digne: 5.5/10
The threat of Sterling proved too much to handle for Lucas Digne eventually. Most of the Manchester City attack came through his side. His poor defensive performance led to giving away as many as 4 fouls.
Sergio Busquets: 5/10
Sergio Busquets is enduring a tough year in terms of form, and yesterday night was not any different. Got caught in possession often and gave away a lot of fouls, one of which led to City’s second goal. It seemed the home side targeted the Spanish midfielder, as he was constantly pressed by their players.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
One of the few Barcelona players who looked in fine touch in the first 45 mins, but his influence waned completely in the second half. Still, he was at his typical hard working self even when he got outnumbered in midfield.
Andres Gomes: 7/10
The new signing was Barcelona’s best player in the first half, turning Otamendi on floor twice in quick succession in their box. Didn’t influence much in the second half but should have scored a goal after Luis Suarez played him in front of an open goal, but the midfielder could only hit the woodwork.
The Brazilian started the match in electric fashion. which eventually led to the assist for Barcelona’s first goal. But his threat was more or less nullified by Pablo Zabaleta after brief spell of good moments.
Far from a classic Lionel Messi display, but it still contained a piece of magic as he instigated a counter for the opening goal from start to finish, running the whole yards of the pitch to score. However, the Argentine genius was pretty much isolated for the rest of the match.
Luis Suarez: 5.5/10
Luis Suarez had a poor outing. He wasn’t involved much in general team’s play neither did it look he would create something out of the ordinary. His only notable moment came when he intercepted John Stones’ backward pass, nutmegged Otamendi and set-up Gomes for an open goal, only for the shot to hit the crossbar.
Arda Turan: 5.5/10
Came on for Rakitic to play for the final half an hour, but couldn’t inspire the midfield much. The game looked to flow by him, which isn’t surprising as he has just recovered from a knock.
Rafinha was brought on in the 76th min, when the match was more or less already decided at 3-1. Didn’t have any significant touches in his short duration on the pitch.