Barcelona, Messi Take First Leg on English Soil
Hoping to use the Etihad Stadium as a spring board to success in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage, Machester City failed to capitalize on their home-field advantage as Barcelona took the first leg of the Round of 16, 2-0.
The first half of the match gave a flavor of what was in store. The Spanish side maintained over 60 percent of the possession but Manchester City had their fair share of opportunities to go up at home. Victor Valdes found himself in a few skirmishes in front of his own goal and his risky play was bailed out by the officials.
The first goal came in the 54th minute when Lionel Messi found himself with only the keeper to beat but was brought down by defender Martin Demichelis inside the box. Demichelis was sent off with a red card and Messi awarded a penalty. The Argentine striker easily beat Joe Hart to put the La Liga visitors up for good and score his 66th Champions League goal.
Down to 10 men, the hosts made valiant efforts to score an equalizer to no avail. The Blues' best chance came in the 75th minute with a David Silva shot that Valdes saved.
Dani Alves stuck in the dagger in the 90th minute with a shot that beat Joe Hart between the legs to put Barcelona up 2-0.
Having lost at home, Machester City now face the daunting task of travelling to the Camp Nou and climb back from a near insurmountable score for the second leg of the tie.
Barcelona is in the driver's seat and will host Macherster City on March 12 with a kickoff time of 3:45 p.m. EST.