So much of the prematch hype for Barcelona versus Manchester City centered on the 4-0 hiding Barca had administered the Citizens only two weeks previously. If Guardiola’s new side ever aspired to reach the levels of his former protegees, that scoreline demonstrated how much work still remained.
The return match in Manchester started brightly for City. An early penalty appeal from Raheem Sterling saw the attacker booked for simulation, an extremely harsh reading of what looked an almost certain penalty.
To compound City’s miseries, they found themselves behind shortly thereafter. It started inconspicuously enough with a City free kick in the Barcelona end. Then, as is so often the case, Barcelona went on a lightening quick counterattack highlighting the work of Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Neymar squared for the Argentine captain, Messi scoring his 90th Champions League goal and eclipsing Real Madrid legend Raul as the group stage’s all-time top scorer.
Barcelona were dominate following the opener. A second goal for the Catalan side seemed inevitable, but then Sergi Roberto, who had a difficult night at the back, inexplicably gave possession away by passing across the face of his own goal.
The mistake was eventually punished by Gundogan, the German now scoring with freakish regularity for City.
If the first half had been something of an exhibition of Barcelona’s talents, Manchester City used the second half to put on a masterclass. City went on a devastating counterattack of their own in the 50th minute, forcing Sergio Busquets to bring down David Silva on the edge of the area.
From there, De Bruyne unleashed a curling effort that Marc-Andre ter Stegen could not keep out.
City’s third came from more invention from De Bruyne. The Belgian released Jesus Navas on the inside right, and his square ball bounced around the box before falling to Gundogan. His brace effectively finished the match off, giving City their first victory over Barca in five attempts.
Following Celtic’s draw with Gladbach in the group’s other match, City will have the chance to secure their passage into the knockout round by defeating ‘A German Club’ during match day five on November 23rd.
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