Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Barcelona edge City to march into quarters

AFP, BARCELONA, Spain

Manchester City’s James Milner, left, and Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano vie for the ball during their Champions League last 16 second-leg soccer match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Second-half goals from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves booked Barcelona’s place in the Champions League quarter-finals for a seventh consecutive year as they beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to progress 4-1 on aggregate.

City were looking to become the first side to come back from losing the first leg 2-0 at home in the Champions League era and they had chances to reduce the deficit as Victor Valdes denied Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko either side of halftime.

However, Messi killed the tie as a contest with 23 minutes remaining as he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to flick home his eighth Champions League goal of the season.

The visitors were then reduced to 10 men as Pablo Zabaleta was shown a second yellow card for dissent after Dzeko looked to have a legitimate penalty claim waved away by French referee Stephane Lannoy.

Vincent Kompany looked to have salvaged at least a draw for City on the night when he tapped home a minute from time, but Alves restored Barca’s lead from Andres Iniesta’s cut-back in stoppage time.

Barca had come into the game under huge pressure having lost twice in their last three La Liga games, but Messi insisted they will return to their former glory in the coming weeks.

“We knew that we had to score to kill the tie off and once we did in the second half, there was no more danger in the tie,” he told Spanish TV station Canal Plus. “We had chances and we have gone through which is what we needed. We have had two huge slip ups in the league, above all for the way we played in those games. Soon, we will return to being the Barca that we want to be and people are waiting to see.”

It was a different feeling for City captain Kompany, who felt key decisions had gone against his side.

City started on the front foot, but they were lucky not to concede a penalty on eight minutes when Messi went down under a challenge from Joleon Lescott.

City were handed another break by the officials as Neymar had a goal controversially ruled out as Jordi Alba was deemed to have been offside when he crossed for the Brazilian to finish.

With City still needing two goals to even force extra time, they were dealt a blow as the injured Sergio Aguero had to be replaced by Dzeko at the break.

Messi came within inches of sealing the tie with another wonderful solo run on 50 minutes as he teased Lescott before passing the ball off the inside of the post.

City then had a couple of great chances to get back into the tie as Valdes produced a magnificent save to turn Dzeko’s towering header over the bar before Zabaleta skewed wildly wide when presented with a clear sight of goal at the back post.

The opener finally arrived when Fabregas’s intended through ball bounced off Lescott into the path of Messi and he gave Joe Hart no chance with a nonchalant finish off the outside of his left foot.

There was still more controversy to come, though, as Dzeko appeared to have been felled by Gerard Pique inside the area.

Lannoy was again unmoved and Zabaleta was dismissed for taking his protests too far as a host of City players surrounded the referee.

The English side did manage a consolation a minute from time when Kompany tapped home Dzeko’s knockdown from a corner.

However, Barca were not to be denied victory on the night as with their next attack Iniesta rounded Hart and kept his head to set up Alves to hammer home from close range.

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