City produced a superb display to defeat Barcelona and edge closer to qualification for the last 16
What happened? City started brightly, pressing high and taking the game to Barcelona. They have been accused of looking overawed in games against Catalan giants in the past – but this was different. Guardiola wants his side to be bold and take the game to the opposition and his ideas are clearly being transmitted. Raheem Sterling was denied a penalty when he was tripped in the area by Samuel Umtiti after 11 minutes. It looked a harsh decision by Viktor Kassai, who booked Sterling for a supposed dive. City were doing all the early running but Barca, as ever, were a threat on the break. Neymar was released just inside the City half and after running into a huge area of space towards goal he fed the onrushing Lionel Messi, who skipped past a challenge and slotted past Willy Caballero to give the away side the advantage after 21 minutes. It was harsh on City but that’s how ruthless this Barcelona side can be. They took control of the game for the next 15 minutes - but momentum at this level can change quickly. City were level after before half time – Ilkay Gundogan scoring from Sterling’s call across the area – and moments were almost ahead, but Aguero couldn’t apply the finishing touch to Fernandinho’s pass. City started the second half in the ascendancy and were soon ahead. Sterling hit the sidenetting from a good position moments after the restart, before Kevin De Bruyne struck a superb free-kick from 20 yards that flew past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 2-1. The City fans were suddenly in full voice. City pressed Barcelona all night, squeezing them every time they got the ball and it was a tactic that paid dividends. They were winning the ball back when Barcelona had committed men forward and breaking quickly. They scored a third after doing exactly that, with Gundogan grabbing his second of the night after good work from substitute Jesus Navas. This was perhaps the finest performance City have mustered in the Champions League since entering the competition back in 2011 and qualification for the last 16 is now in sight. Highlights coming soon.
Key Moment Gundogan’s first completely changed the game. Barcelona, buoyed by their opener, had taken control of the first half – but The German’s neat finish saw City grow in belief and impose themselves on the game. They didn't look back thereafter.
Man of the Match: Ilkay Gundogan Gundogan followed up his wonderful display against West Brom on Saturday with another stand-out display against Barca. He produced two cool-as-you-like finishes and knitted City's play together with a superb array of passing. At £21 million, he could prove the bargain of the season.
What Next? City now have two Group C matches left - Borussia Monchengladbach away in two weeks’ time, before finishing off with a game at home to Celtic on December 6. A point away in Germany will seal City's qualification to the last 16. Before all that, though, it’s Middlesbrough at home in the Premier League this Saturday, where City will be looking for three points to keep them top of the table in what looks likely to be one of the tightest title races of recent years.
Manchester City (3): Caballero; Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov; Fernandinho (Fernando, m.60), Gündogan, Silva; Sterling (Jesús Navas, m.70), De Bruyne (Nolito, m.88) y Sergio “Kun” Agüero.
Barcelona (1): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Umtiti, Digne; Busquets, Rakitic (Turan, m.61), Gomes (Rafinha, m.76); Messi, Neymar y Suárez.