MESSI, ALVES FIRE BARCA TO VICTORY
By: Nhlanhla Ndlovu
Barcelona resumed the UEFA Champions League campaign on a high with a 2-0 victory over the English giants Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
Lionel Messi’s penalty and Dani Alves’ late strike gave the Spanish giants an advantage ahead of the second leg in three weeks’ time.
Messi converted the penalty after fellow Argentinian Martin Demichelis fouled him and was given a red card in the 54th minute.
A sterling display by Alves eventually yielded positively as he grabbed a sweet taken goal in the last minute of normal time to seal the game.
The first few minutes of the game were dominated by the unstoppable passing game of the visitors although they failed to create clear cut chances.
In the 19th minute, the first chance of the game came through Alvaro Negredo’s right foot cutting inside from the right wing but his acute angle shot went across the goal mouth.
The home side almost claimed the lead in the 25th minute after Victor Valdes failed to punch away the cross from a free kick by David Silva.
Barca’s first good chance on goal came in the 32nd minute when Xavi had an open space in front of him as he dribbled on the edge of the City box played the long range shot, but Joe Hart came to rescue as he tapped it clear off goals.
In the second stanza, City came in with guns blazing but suffered a blow as Demichelis was sent off.
Silva almost levelled matters on the 77th minute as controlled the ball with his chest inside the box before firing a shot which forced Valdes to make a save.
Brazilian combination of the substitute Neymar and Alves produced the second goal of the match in the 90th minute. Neymar played a short pass in the right wing to Alves running towards the box and dribbled Gaël Clichy to beat Hart in the far post.
Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas believes that they had to show the world that they are still excellent in the field of play.
Fabregas told ITV, “Maybe we had to prove a point in a way and I think we did it and I think we did it in a style and very, very well, but this team has done so much and won so much to always have to prove a point.”
Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed the referee after their loss at home.
“From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams so he decided the game with a foul that he didn’t whistle against and a penalty with Demichelis that was not a penalty, it was outside the box,” Pellegrini told ITV.