Barcelona 4-0 Manchester City: Messi and Neymar on target in comfortable win

first_imgBarcelona cemented their place at the top of Group C as they brushed aside Manchester City at the Nou Camp.Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick on a night where Pep Guardiola opted to start without a genuine striker, starting with Kevin De Bruyne instead of the benched Sergio Aguero.City were reduced to 10 men minutes into the second half, after Claudio Bravo handled the ball outside his area attempting to save a Luis Suarez strike. That proved to be the tipping point, as Barcelona took advantage to score three second half goals after Messi had opened the scoring with an opportunistic first half effort.The result leaves Barcelona five points clear at the top of the group at the halfway stage and are on course to qualify for the knockout stages against Manchester City at the Etihad in less than a month’s time.The visitors started the brighter as they refused to allow the hosts to dictate the pace of the game. Raheem Sterling provided City with a genuine threat down the right flank as he tested Jordi Alba and his eventual replacement, Lucas Digne. Pep Guardiola’s side looked at ease in their altered formation as they attempted to carry out their game plan.But an unfortunate slip by Fernandinho allowed Barcelona to take the lead just after the quarter hour. Andres Iniesta’s pass into the penalty area was intended for nobody in particular, but Fernandinho’s mistake presented Lionel Messi with the chance to round Claudio Bravo, before he tapped into an empty net.Barcelona should have doubled their advantage on the half hour. Messi’s free-kick delivery escaped the attentions of every City defender, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the chance to head home. But the Croatian nodded past the front post in what was a major let off for the away side.Ilkay Gundogan could have drawn City level if it weren’t for the strong left hand of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. After darting past Gerard Pique, Gundogan opened up his body to curl the ball into the far corner, but Ter Stegen tipped his effort wide of the mark with an outstanding save.Manchester City ended the second half in the ascendancy and went even closer to equalising on the stroke of half time. David Silva floated a ball into the penalty area from the left flank, with John Stones looking certain to score. The England international connected but his tame header skipped past the near post.Less than 10 minutes into the second half, City’s hopes of salvaging anything from the game were dealt a massive blow. Under little pressure, Bravo hit a dreadful clearance straight into the path of Luis Suarez, who tried to lob the goalkeeper from 30-yards out. Bravo idiotically blocked the ball with his hands and was given a straight red card, leaving his manager disgusted as he pirouetted towards his coaching staff.City were punished almost immediately, as Messi scored his second of the night to end the game as a contest. Kevin De Bruyne gave the ball away cheaply to Iniesta, who slipped in Messi, before the Argentine shifted the ball onto his left foot and smashed the ball past substitute goalkeeper Willy Caballero.Pep Guardiola’s side were buckling and they gifted Barcelona a third goal to compound their misery. Gundogan played the ball back to Stones, but the defender failed to anticipate the German’s intentions, as Suarez skipped away to deliver a square pass to Messi, who completed his hat-trick with a tap-in.With 15 minutes left, Barcelona were reduced to 10 men after Jeremy Mathieu picked up his second yellow card of the night. Sterling was posing little danger on the left wing, but the defender fouled the winger, leaving referee Milorad Mazic with an easy decision.Lionel Messi earned his side a penalty with minutes of normal time remaining after Aleksandar Kolarov’s clumsy challenge. Neymar took responsibility for the effort, but the Brazilian was denied by Willy Caballero’s fine save.But Neymar made up for his penalty miss minutes later as he exchanged passes with Messi before leaving Stones cast aside, stroking the ball past Caballero. 1 Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed Manchester City last_img

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