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The New Saints
UEFA Champions League
February 18, 2014
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: J. Eriksson
• Attendance: 46033
L. Messi 54'
Dani Alves 90'
Well, that's all from our coverage of tonight's action at the Etihad Stadium. Many thanks for joining us, and we'll see you again very soon!
Barcelona, meanwhile, dominated possession for most of the game, but were struggling to find a way through before Demichelis' sending off. It'll be a different story in Barcelona, though, as they will have the confidence of a two-goal cushion to play with.
Pellegrini's men will take heart from the character of their performance, as it was a disciplined display for the best part of the game. Just one lapse in concentration means it's an uphill struggle to make it through to the quarter-finals.
That's FULL TIME at the Etihad Stadium and Barcelona have a 2-0 lead to take back to northern Spain for the second leg. It was a spirited display from the hosts but losing a man early in the half was always going to make it difficult.
90' + 2'
GREAT CHANCE FOR MESSI!! It could be even worse for City as Neymar plays it in for Messi on the edge of the box, and the forward shows some quick footwork to create some space, but his shot is tame in the end and goes into the arms of a grateful Joe Hart.
90' + 1'
You'd have to say that's pretty much killed the tie off now. City need to win by three goals in Barcelona - not the easiest of tasks by any stretch of the imagination.
Goal Daniel Alves
ALVES DOUBLES THE LEAD!! That's a bitter blow for the hosts, who have defended resolutely while missing a man. The full-back exchanges passes with Neymar before driving into the area and firing under Hart from a tight angle and into the far corner.
The visitors have possession now, and are just taking the sting out of things in these final stages. They'll b very happy to take a lead back to Camp Nou.
It's a poor delivery and Barcelona clear before Nasri wildly slices a volley towards the corner flag, which Toure does well to win a throw from. City come forward once more but Pique clears from the edge of the box before Alba wins a throw out wide.
Kompany plays a fine ball forward for Dzeko, who brings it down well before spreading it wide. Silva cuts on to his left and fires in a cross towards the far post looking for Dzeko, but Valdes gets a hand on the ball to put it behind.
Under five minutes to go at the Etihad Stadium, and Alves gives it straight to Nasri in midfield. Is there anything left for the hosts, or can Barcelona add to their lead?
DZEKO NEARLY IN!! The striker latches on to Zabaleta's ball over the top, chesting the ball down before seeing his low shot saved by Valdes. The referee had already blown, though, as the striker was judged to have fouled Pique.
Neymar tries to turn and move into the area but Fernandinho uses his strength well to but his compatriot off balance, giving Kompany the chance to hack the ball clear.
Replays show Fabregas was level for that disallowed goal. A big let-off for City, in that case. Can they take full advantage and level the tie?
DISALLOWED!! Xavi has the ball in space and slides through a wonderful pass for Fabregas inside the area, and he has the simplest task of squaring to Pique who tucks it home. Fortunately for the hosts, Fabregas' run was too early and the flag is up for offside.
The pace of the attack dies down but City still have possession, before Lescott fires a wild pass back to Hart, and the goalkeeper has no chance of stopping it, meaning the visitors have a cheap corner all of a sudden.
Neymar produces a loose touch and the ball rolls out for a throw to City just inside their own half. Toure gives it straight to Alves, though, before Fernandinho wins it back brilliantly, setting a City attack going up the other end.
SILVA GOES CLOSE!! What a lovely move!! Zabaleta latches on to a crossfield ball, volleying first time into Silva, who chests the ball down before drilling a low shot at goal. Valdes is strong, though, and gets down to hold the ball. Best chance of the match for City.
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
Mascherano is in trouble as he halts a City attack rather abruptly, taking out Toure in the centre circle. A chance for the hosts to alleviate some of the pressure at the other end.
Neymar is indeed introduced for the visitors, replacing Sanchez, while Edin Dzeko is on for Negredo for City. Just over 15 minutes left at the Etihad Stadium - is there a way back for the hosts?
The visitors come forward but can't find a way through, so go backwards before trying again. Fabregas plays it into Messi, who fashions half a yard of space before firing a shot, but Fernandinho covers superbly to block his effort.
It sounds like Martino is preparing to bring on Neymar. City will be delighted to hear that...
Silva is clattered by Busquets in midfield, prompting much anger from the City faithful. The hosts have a free kick but there's no card for the Barcelona midfielder, much to the annoyance of Pellegrini on the sidelines.
Oh dear, Clichy! The full-back spurns a glorious chance! Silva sees a gap and plays the ball into space for Clichy to chase, and he moves into the penalty area. There are several City men in support but he hits something that's neither cross nor shot and Valdes plucks it out of the air.
Zabaleta is applauded as he chases hard after conceding possession, but again Barcelona have the ball under control.
INCHES WIDE FROM ALVES!! The full-back plays a beautiful one-two with Sanchez before moving into the box. He has no options so tries to fire it at pace past Hart into the far corner but it skips just wide of the post.
XAVI FIRES OVER!! Another nice move from Barcelona sees Alves involved again, and he plays it along the edge of the area for Xavi, who drills a first-time effort just over Hart's crossbar.
City very nearly in as Silva plays the ball inside towards Negredo, but Alba comes across to cut it out as the last line of defence. The striker was in on goal otherwise.
Danger for City as the ball is spread wide to Alves, who fires in a low cross towards the near post. Sanchez is inches away from meeting it but Hart is grateful as it skips through and into his arms.
That chance for Nasri has buoyed the crowd a little bit. They go very quiet whenever Barcelona have the ball which, unfortunately for them, is most of the time.
Xavi fires it in towards the six-yard box but Hart comes out to produce a firm punch to get the ball out of the area. City have possession and move forward through Nasri, who exchanges passes with Negredo before seeing a 20-yard shot blocked on the edge of the box.
It's probably safe to say most of the match will be played inside City's half now. The best they can hope for is to not concede any more and possibly sneak on on the break. Zabaleta is penalised for a foul on Pique, though, and Barcelona can whip in a free kick from the left-hand side.
Iniesta looks for Alves on the right-hand side with a floated ball, but Silva watches it well and gets a touch to put it out of play for a corner to the visitors.
Jesús Navas González
Fantastic defending from Clichy!! Alba is in behind and fires a wonderful first-time cross into the area, but Clichy does brilliantly to get ahead of Sanchez and ends up being awarded a free kick.
The City boss doesn't hang around and decides to make two changes, bringing on Joleon Lescott for Kolarov, while Navas makes way for Samir Nasri.
Desperate times for City as Messi sees a shot blocked before Iniesta's ball across the box is cut out. The visitors smell blood, here, and it could be a very long night for Pellegrini's men.
Replays show Navas may have been fouled in the build-up to that move which ended in the foul on Messi. You suspect we haven't heard the last of this.
Penalty Goal Messi
MESSI PUTS BARCELONA AHEAD!! The forward coolly fires the spot kick straight down the middle, with Hart already going down to his left. That's the visitors in front, and City have a mammoth task on their hands now.
Red Card Martín Demichelis
PENALTY TO BARCELONA!! AND A RED FOR DEMICHELIS!! What an impact this could have. Messi is through clean on goal and Demichelis slides in from behind, taking out the forward and missing the ball. The referee has no choice but to point to the spot and dismiss the City man.
We're back to the pattern of the first half, now, with Barcelona playing a lot of passes inside the City half. Fabregas chips a ball over the top looking for Messi in the area, but Kompany rises high to cut it out and head it away.
Lovely play from Alves as he keeps the ball in play while flicking it over Kolarov's head, and he exchanges quick passes with Xavi and Sanchez before it goes back to Pique.
Danger for City as Messi charges forward and slides a pass beyond the defence, but Sanchez can't quite get on the end of it and the attack fizzles out. The visitors still have the ball now, and will almost certainly try to keep it for a long time after that start for City.
Kompany lifts the ball high into the Barcelona half and Negredo wins it from Pique, but the defender recovers to force it out for a throw. City dominating possession early on here, though.
Kolarov and Alves go up for a header and the latter gets a shoulder in the side of his head. The referee stops play as is done for a head injury, but the defender is fine to continue and play resumes with a drop ball, which City give back to the visitors.
It's a good start from City as the hosts keep possession well in the opening stages of this half. Kolarov turns past Alves and plays into Negredo, who loses out but quickly wins it back.
Barcelona get the ball rolling as we get back underway at the Etihad Stadium.
Alves v Kolarov looks to be a massive battle tonight. With both on a yellow it could get rather interesting in the second half. Just a few minutes to go until play resumes - will we see the deadlock broken?
Fernandinho's return could not have been more timely for City. They look a much more solid unit in the middle and that's helping the hosts in both defence and attack.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will be left a little frustrated after completing a massive amount of passes but not creating a clear-cut chance just yet. If they continue to dominate possession, though, can City continue to hold them at arm's length?
You have to applaud Man City's discipline off the ball so far. Pellegrini has really thought about his tactics - possibly with hindsight from the Bayern Munich defeat - and they are very well organised out of possession.
That's HALF TIME at the Etihad Stadium and it's goalless so far. Barcelona have dominated possession, passing around with their usual style, but Man City have held firm and had the better of the chances, with Silva and Negredo looking on good form.
Barcelona have a free kick in the centre cirle, and take it short as they look to fashion one more chance before the break.
WIDE FROM NEGREDO!! Silva is involved again, winning it in midfield before playing wid eto Navas, who swings in a cross towards the far post. Negredo gets goal side of Alves but is just put off enough and can only put his header wide of the post.
Real danger for City as the visitors rapidly break forwards, and Messi drives towards the area before spreading it wide to Sanchez, who immediately plays it back towards his team-mate in the box. The flag goes up, though, as Messi strays beyond the City defence.
Navas is under pressure by the Barcelona corner flag, and does well to hook in a high cross. Negredo gets to it first but it hits his shoulder and goes out to Alba, who blasts it clear.
The hosts have a chance to fashion an attack of their own here, with Silva darting around the middle to link play up. Can they create a chance before the break?
A City attack is cut out and Alves breaks quickly, trying to float a ball across the area for Messi, but Kompany cuts it out well. The hosts move forward again but Negredo is penalised for a foul on Alba. The striker has to be careful, here, as he's being closely watched by the referee.
Chance for Barcelona as Iniest drives into the City half and plays the ball beyond the defence for Sanchez to chase, but Demichelis forces him wide before winning a throw for the hosts. Great play from the defender, there.
We're back inside the City half as Barcelona continue to move the ball around at pace, but Silva does really well to dispossess Busquets. It's quickly given away by Negredo, though, and the visitors can come forward again.
Yellow Card Aleksandar Kolarov
Kolarov is in trouble now as he goes in hard on Busquets, picking up a yellow card for his efforts. The referee has to be careful here as this one's just starting to threaten to boil over.
It's getting a bit scrappy now, with plenty of free kicks being given. Busquets is penalised for a foul on Kolarov and City take it quickly. Kolarov whips it in for Negredo, whose glanced header goes well wide.
The visitors take the set piece quickly this time and stroke it around in their customary fast-paced fashion. Fabregas then looks for Sanchez with a diagonal ball over the top, but it's too hard and Hart will take a goal kick.
Messi hammers the free kick low...but straight into the wall. Barcelona still have the ball, though, and every player is inside the Man City half as Toure gives away another free kick in the same area.
Another Barcelona attack is stopped abruptly this time, as Kompany barges into Messi but is deemed to have done so illegally, and the visitors have a free kick around 35 yards from goal.
XAVI GOES CLOSE!! The visitors have done well to silence City on and off the pitch here, as they were just starting to grow into the game. Xavi tries a speculative effort from 30 yards and Hart has to parry it up into the air before claiming it at the second attempt.
OVER FROM MESSI!! That's the first real glimpse of goal for the Barcelona man, but it's a poor effort as he lets the ball roll across his body before firing a right-footed shot way over the bar from 20 yards.
INIESTA NEARLY IN!! It's a lovely move from Barcelona as Iniesta playes a wonderful one-two with Fabregas before charging towards the penalty spot, but Toure does brilliantly to watch the midfielder and steal the ball back.
It's all getting a bit feisty in midfield, and Fernandinho is the latest to give away a free kick as he hacks down Fabregas just inside the City half. The Brazilian escapes without a yellow this time, though.
Yellow Card Negredo
Negredo is in trouble with the referee as he slides in late on Pique as the defender plays the ball, and he deservedly goes into the book.
NEGREDO DENIED!! Another nice move from City sees Kolarov square to Silva, who plays in to Negredo before carrying on his run. The striker's flick is cut out but he soon has it back and fires a first-time effort at goal from 20 yards which Valdes saves low.
The last few minutes have been much more positive for the hosts, and the fans have turned up the noise. City press high again and Valdes is forced into an error, putting the ball straight out of play.
WHAT A SCRAMBLE!! Kompany beats Valdes to the ball but it bounces off the City captain's back, looping high towards goal. Fernandinho and Toure both follow it up before Valdes gets back and smothers the ball before Kompany can get in to poke it beyond the line. Close, but not quite for the hosts.
Here's a good chance for City as Fabregas gives away a free kick on the left-hand side, level with the penalty area. Silva will whip it in...
Yellow Card Daniel Alves
Kolarov does really well to control Hart's clearance forward, and then lays it back to Clichy. The full-back accelerates quickly and is taken out by Alves, who has clearly committed one foul too many as he goes in the book.
A roar goes up from the home faithful as City press high and force a mistake from Alba, who hoofs the ball forward and out for a throw. That's what the hosts need to do more.
Xavi strides forward and looks for Sanchez with a ball behind the defence, but it skips off the lush surface and flies out of play for a goal kick to the hosts.
That's the best opening of the match so far, and it's come for the hosts despite Barcelona's monopoly of the ball. This one's very nicely poised.
NEGREDO!! That's a lovely move from the hosts as Kompany plays forward to Silva, who turns straight away and fires a ball through the Barcelona defence for Negredo to chase. The striker gets there first and rounds Valdes, but is forced wide and can't find either the target or a team-mate.
Xavi floats a sumptuous ball out to Alves, who plays it inside to Messi. He's quickly closed down, though, and the ball deflects off him across the penalty area but Kompany clears before Alves fouls Kolarov out wide.
That's better from City as Toure drives forward before playing wide to Navas, who pulls back to Silva. The Spaniard's shot is blocked by Busquets and Negredo fouls Valdes when going for the rebound. Encouraging signs for the hosts, though, and the fans respond by increasing the volume.
It's one-way traffic at the moment, and it's amazing to think these are the top scorers in England this season.
Toure plays a nice first-time ball out wide to Kolarov, who has to turn backwards but does well to hold off Alves before winning a foul off the Barcelona defender. Negredo is almost in at goal as he chases a high ball into the area, but Mascherano watches it brilliantly to poach the ball away from the striker.
Clichy's pass forward to Kolarov is loose and the wide man can't bring it under control. City look very nervy in possession, and they really don't want to waste what little time they get on the ball.
Hart produces a firm punch to power the ball well away from the penalty area, but it's straight back into Barcelona's possession. Fabregas pops up out wide and tries a right-footed cross from the left, but it's overhit and flies past Sanchez and out of play for a goal kick.
Alves pushes down the right-hand side, as is customary for the full-back, and he forces another corner for the visitors. The hosts should be more comfortable in the air, though.
Fabregas sprays the ball out wide to Iniesta, who tires to cut inside and it's eventually squares towards Messi, but Demichelis quickly tackles the forward. The clearance is poor, though, and again Barcelona have it back.
Alves cuts inside and looks to exchange passes with Sanchez but Clicky cuts it out. The visitors come back and Kolarov is forced into a hacked clearance out wide, giving the ball straight back to Barcelona. This very much looks like being the order of business tonight, with the visitors dominating possession.
Another Barcelona push through the middle is snuffed out by a swarm of City players, and the hosts move into the opposing half. It's all in front of Martino's side, though, and eventually a misplaced pass hands possession back.
Messi drops to halfway and flicks the ball over Fernandinho to find Busquets, who in turn sets Fabregas away. The midfielder darts through the middle but is confronted by a blue wall and the danger is averted.
A loose pass from Iniesta is cut out by Fernandinho, but Kompany gives the ball straight back to Barcelona as he looks for Kolarov on the left. The hosts haven't really settled yet.
Xavi pings a ball out to the right flank for Sanchez but Clichy does well to cut it out. Barcelona press high, though, and Demichelis is forced into an error as he lifts the ball straight out for a throw.
Xavi's set piece is easily headed away by the taller City side and they come forward quickly through Navas, who skips past two challenges before spreading the ball wide. The attack breaks down but the hosts still have possession - their first meaningful spell.
Messi pops up on the right-hand side before squaring in to Xavi and the play switches flanks quickly. Fernandinho sticks close to Messi and steals possession before Alves steals it from Negredo, and Sanchez forces a corner off Clichy.
There's an early sign of how tight things will be as Zabaleta sticks close to Iniesta, getting to Pique's pass before the midfielder, but the visitors quickly win possession back and are settling into their usual passing rhythm.
We're underway in Manchester as the hosts get the ball rolling for the first half.
The players march out to be confronted by a packed Etihad Stadium. There is one heck of an atmosphere tonight, and we're just a couple of minutes away from kick-off.
Messi is just six goals away from equalling Raul's all-time Champions League goalscoring record. Who'd bet against him getting closer to that tonight?
Barcelona, though, will look at Martin Demichelis and feel Messi can run him ragged tonight. There are interesting little confrontations all over the pitch, so who will come out on top?
Pellegrini has clearly targeted the left-hand side as the point of attack, going for Aleksandr Kolarov in midfield, undoubtedly encouraging him to get in behind Dani Alves as often as possible.
The visitors, meanwhile, are unlikely to change their philosophy and will undoubtedly play to win. They moved back on top of La Liga with a 6-0 win over Rayo vallecano, and Messi scored twice to move level with Raul in third in the all-time Spanish league goalscoring charts.
The key for City tonight, surely, is to establish a lead to take to Camp Nou. Anything under two goals, you imagine, will not be enough for Pellegrini's men.
Goals are, of course, the main trade in football, and these two are chief exporters. Man City have scored an incredible 117 goals in all competitions this season, while their Catalan opponents aren't too far behind with 111 strikes.
This is the first competitive meeting between these two sides. They've faced each other six times in friendlies, although they don't usually indicate form anyway. Besides, they've won three each so there's nothing to go on there.
Barcelona have Cesc Fabregas in midfield and coach Gerardo Martino will certainly be drawing on his Premier League experience to guide the Spanish giants to victory tonight. It's a loose 4-3-3 for the visitors, who have the ultimate weapon at their disposal in the form of Lionel Messi.
So, Manuel Pellegrini elects to go with Alvaro Negredo alone up front as he looks to snuff out Barcelona's midfield talent. The return of Fernandinho will be a massive boost and the Brazilian could have a huge impact tonight.
Barcelona subs: Pinto, Bartra, Adriano, Song, Sergi Roberto, Pedro, Neymar.
BARCELONA: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Iniesta; Sanchez.
Man City subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Garcia, Nasri, Jovetic, Dzeko.
MAN CITY: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Navas, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Kolarov; Negredo.
It promises to be a fascinating game between two free-scoring sides, but how will they line up? Let's look at the teams...
Hello and welcome to LIVE coverage from the Etihad Stadium for the game we've all been waiting for. Yes, the Champions League is back, and it's back in style as Manchester City take on Barcelona.
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