Barcelona beat Manchester City 4-0 on Wednesday night at the Nou Camp as a moment of madness from Claudio Bravo proved decisive in the Group C UEFA Champions League encounter.
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Before the game Pep Guardiola said he’d find out where his new team were at after facing his former club Barcelona. City showed signs of promise but that man Lionel Messi, Guardiola’s protege, tore them apart once again.
Messi gave the Spanish champions the lead in the first half and after Bravo was sent off for a calamitous red card early in the second half, Messi grabbed another as City were their own worst enemies.
Despite a promising spell either side of half time, Guardiola left his old stomping ground with his tail between his legs as Messi completed his hat trick and Neymar added a goal to put some extra gloss on the scoreline.
The win moves Barca to nine points from their opening three group games, while City remains on four points.
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Early on Barca were dealt a blow as Jordi Alba hobbled off injured and Lucas Digne replaced him.
After a bright start City were then caught out by Messi (who else?) as he ghosted into the box after an unfortunate slip by Fernandinho and scored his 10th goal in his last eight Champions League games.
Before the game all the talk had been about Messi and how Guardiola wanted to try and sign him, if he ever decided to leave Barca, and it was the Argentine wonder who added the killer blow whenever the Catalan club needed it.
City’s uphill task just got more difficult after Messi’s first and they could’ve been 2-0 down had both Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic finished better in the box.
Guardiola’s boys felt the heat for a few moments following the opening goal but, overall, City responded well to going behind with Raheem Sterling getting some space on the right then Nolito got free down the left but Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied him.
Moments later ter Stegen was called into action again as Ilkay Gundogan drove into the box and he should’ve done better with his finish after skipping past three Barca defenders.
Before half time Gerard Pique had to come off injured as Luis Enrique was forced into yet another defensive reshuffle with Jeremy Mathieu coming on.
Messi played in Suarez before the break and he was clean through but Bravo blocked his first effort and then tipped the looping ball over.
City had a penalty shout for handball in the box before the break as Sterling’s cross appeared to hit Digne on the hand but nothing was given and Kevin De Bruyne slammed the loose ball into the side-netting.
Despite trailing 1-0 at half time, Guardiola would’ve have been encouraged by City’s response to going behind.
Man City started the second half brightly, too, with De Bruyne getting in behind and David Silva pulling the strings but then a moment of madness swung the game in Barcelona’s favor.
Before the game City’s players talked about having to be “perfect” to get anything at Barcelona. Bravo was far from that as he first miscued his attempted pass to give the ball straight to Suarez who chipped goalwards for what have been a certain second goal, bur then Bravo pushed the ball away with his hands while stood outside his box.
The Chilean goalkeeper was correctly shown a straight red card on his return to the Nou Camp less then two months after leaving Barca for Man City.
It got worse moments later as Messi slotted home his second of the game and 88th UCL goal with a simple finish. 2-0.
City kept plugging away as De Bruyne raced through and drilled low by ter Stegen saved and they put on some pressure from set pieces but Barca managed to clear.
Barca then proceeded to pick City off on the counter and a mistake from Gnndogan let in Suarez who put it on a plate for Messi to grab a hat trick. 3-0. That’s now 89 UCL goals for Messi.
It wasn’t all good news for Barca as sub Mathieu was sent off late in the game for two yellow cards as he scythed down Sterling. Although the game ended level in terms of men on the pitch, 10-10, it was a convincing win for Barcelona as Neymar also missed a PK but then slotted home stylishly in the final minute. 4-0.
Welcome back to Barca, Pep…