Champions League Results: Majestic Messi Helps Barcelona Topple Manchester City; Cruise Mode for PSG
By Deepak Vikraman | March 13, 2014 3:01 PM EST
Manchester City, just like Arsenal, could not produce a now-that-is-some-comeback performance as Barcelona, led by the incomparable Lionel Messi, strolled through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a 4-1 aggregate victory over the English Premier League side in their round-of-16 tie.
Leading 2-0 going into the second leg, Barcelona always looked like the more potent side, even if City did put up a better fight in the attacking third.
Messi looked like Messi again, making those darting where-the-hell-did-he-go runs, with City defender Joleon Lescott, who was lucky not to give away a penalty, especially, given a torrid time at the heart of City's defence.
After the little magician threatened to open the scoring a couple of times in the first few moments, Barcelona thought they had jumped into the lead on the night when Neymar, who was also good on the night, even if nowhere near Messi's brilliance, found the back of the net off a pass from Jordi Alba.
The goal was chalked-off, however, with Alba deemed to be in an offside position when Xavi picked out a pass for the left-back - a huge slice of luck for City as replays suggested the Barca defender was onside.
There was also a moment or two of refereeing grief for City as well, though, as late in the second half Pablo Zabaleta was given his marching orders for protesting a little too much after referee Stephane Lannoy waved away penalty appeals following Gerard Pique's challenge on Edin Dzeko inside the penalty area.
After a testing first half, City, with manager Manuel Pellegrini banned from the touchline, played much better with Edin Dzeko in the lineup, as Sergio Aguero, on the periphery and utterly ineffective, was taken off at halftime with a hamstring injury.
But, with Messi in the Barcelona team, no matter how much City improved, the home side were always going to be good value for a goal, and the opener finally came via the gifted boot of Barca's talisman, who had earlier in the half struck the base of the post after leaving Lescott for dead. Lescott failed to intercept a through ball from Cesc Fabregas, with the ball falling kindly to Messi, who, obviously, made no mistake.
That goal in the 67th minute as good as ended the tie, with City needing at least three goals in the final 23 minutes to stand a chance of making it to the quarterfinals. What followed, however, was Zabaleta's sending off 12 minutes from time, before Vincent Kompany grabbed a consolation strike in the 89th minute turning the ball in off Dzeko's header from a corner.
The two scorers in the first leg for Barcelona were Messi and Dani Alves, and the latter would get on the scoresheet again as the right-back lashed the ball home off a pass from Andres Iniesta in stoppage time.
In the other game of the night, PSG, leading 4-0 going into the second leg in Paris, eased past Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate thanks to a 2-1 victory.
Leverkusen opened up the possibility of a stunning comeback when Sidney Sam netted in just the sixth minute, but PSG put paid to any hopes of the German side scoring three more unanswered goals as Marquinhos levelled the score on the night in the 13th minute.
It was not PSG at their best, but it was more than enough as Ezequiel Lavezzi added the gloss eight minutes into the second half to seal a passage through to the last-eight.
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