Lionel Messi struck to end Manchester City’s dreams of a famous comeback as Barcelona beat the English club 2-1 at the Nou Camp on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate.
Barca looked far from the classic team who lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2011 but a stuttering version under Gerardo Martino that had lost two of their last three games was still far too strong for the Premier League club.
City, who lost the first leg of the last-16 tie 2-0 at home, were a constant threat to the Spanish champions, but they were left to rue missed chances by David Silva, Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta.
Captain Vincent Kompany levelled for the visitors on the night with a tap-in in the 89th minute, but Dani Alves responded by sweeping home the winner in the first minute of stoppage time.
City had been reduced to 10 men by then after Zabaleta was shown a second yellow card for dissent in the 78th minute.
The Argentine defender was incensed with referee Stephane Lannoy’s decision to ignore City’s strong penalty claims when substitute Edin Dzeko went down in the area under a challenge by Gerard Pique.
“It was a clear penalty,” Kompany told Sky Sports. “Dzeko was in position to shoot and his trigger foot was caught.
“We have got nothing left in the tank. We gave everything and a few times we could have scored and obviously that would have changed the game.
“You have to take your half chances against the best teams. Over the course of the two games there was not much between the sides.”
Messi put his side in front by producing a neat finish with the outside of his left boot from close range in the 67th minute after defender Joleon Lescott failed to stop a routine through-ball from Cesc Fabregas.
“We knew we had to score a goal to bring some calm to the tie, as we were aware of how dangerous City are,” Messi told Canal Plus.
“I don’t think the tie was ever in danger for us, and we controlled the match very well.
“I think tonight we got back to being the Barcelona that we all want to see and we were able to beat a very tough opponent.
“I don’t know if the criticism (in the media after the La Liga defeat to Valladolid) was over the top. We are the first to criticise ourselves and we didn’t play the way we should have done there.
“We don’t let the criticism affect us and we just focus on ourselves and try to …continued »