Updated at 22.24
SECOND-HALF GOALS from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves booked Barcelona’s place in the Champions League quarter-finals for a seventh consecutive year as they beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to progress 4-1 on aggregate.
City were looking to become the first side to come back from losing the first leg 2-0 at home in the Champions League era and they had chances to reduce the deficit as Victor Valdes denied Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko either side of half-time.
However, Messi killed the tie as a contest with 23 minutes remaining as he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to flick home his eighth Champions League goal of the season.
The visitors were then reduced to 10 men as Pablo Zabaleta was shown a second yellow card for dissent after Dzeko looked to have a legitimate penalty claim waved away by French referee Stephane Lannoy.
City captain Vincent Kompany looked to have salvaged at least a draw on the night when he tapped home a minute from time, but Alves restored Barca’s lead from Andres Iniesta’s cut-back in stoppage time.
Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas said this result would ease the pressure on the team following a couple of poor ones in the league.
“It was a very tight game, we were playing against a world class team. We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” he said. “We had a great result, 2-0 over there, because it’s never easy to go to Manchester and win the way we did.
“We created lots of chances, there was a penalty not awarded, a goal from Neymar that was onside. We take a lot of positives, we played much better than the last few games when we were not at our best but this relieves a lot of pressure.”
Kompany complained that the sending-off had been unfair and costly to City.
“We’ve got nothing left in the tank, we gave everything. A few times we could’ve scored and obviously that would’ve changed the game,” he told Sky Sports.
Going for the second time down to 10 men when it was a clear penalty, it’s not easy conditions to come and play against such a good team. Over the course of the two games, whenever we were with 11 players there wasn’t much between the two teams.
“Obviously Messi is an incredible player, whenever he has the ball danger can happen, but we had a few chances too.”
With a huge mountain to climb, City started on the front foot but they were lucky not to concede a penalty on eight minutes when Messi went down under a challenge from Joleon Lescott.
The visitors’ first opening arrived on 16 minutes when James Milner could only direct Aleksandar Kolarov’s driven cross wide of the target.
City were then handed another break by the officials as Neymar had a goal controversially ruled out for offside as Jordi Alba was deemed to have been offside when he crossed for the Brazilian to finish.
With City still needing two goals to even force extra time, the injured Sergio Aguero was replaced by Dzeko at the break.
However, the Bosnian nearly made an instant impact as his low drive was smothered by Victor Valdes. Messi came within inches of sealing the tie with another wonderful solo run on 50 minutes as he teased Lescott before passing the ball off the inside of the post.
City then had a couple of great chances to get back into the tie as Valdes produced a magnificent save to turn Dzeko’s towering header over the bar before Zabaleta skewed wildly wide when presented with a clear sight of goal at the back post.
The opener finally arrived when Fabregas’s intended through ball bounced off Lescott into the path of Messi and he gave Joe Hart no chance with a nonchalant finish off the outside of his left foot.
There was still more controversy to come, though, as Dzeko appeared to have been felled by Gerard Pique inside the area. Lannoy was again unmoved and Zabaleta was dismissed for taking his protests too far as a host of City players surrounded the referee.
The English side did manage a consolation a minute from time when Kompany tapped home Dzeko’s knockdown from a corner. However, Barca weren’t to be denied victory on the night as with their next attack Iniesta rounded Hart and kept his head to set up Alves to hammer home from close range.