Lionel Messi and Dani Alves scored as Barcelona beat Manchester City to progress to the Champions League quarter finals.
Messi capitalised on an error by Joleon Lescott to latch on to Cesc Fabregas’ pass and send the ball past Joe Hart just after the hour mark.
Barca ran out 4-1 winners on aggregate having taken a 2-0 lead from the first leg at City’s Etihad Stadium. The visitors made a decent attempt of making a game of it but Vincent Kompany’s late goal came too late to threaten Barca’s progression.
Alves confirmed the win for Barca with the game in injury time, much as he did in the first leg.
City’s chances took a severe hit when Messi scored and were effectively over when Pablo Zabaleta was sent off with 13 minutes to play. The defender was shown a second yellow card after protesting too vigorously when referee Stephane Lannoy didn’t award a penalty when Gerard Pique appeared to foul Edin Dzeko.
Each side went into the game on the back of a humiliating weekend defeat – Barca to Real Valladolid and City to Wigan. Barca responded with two changes while City made seven from their FA Cup line-up.
Manuel Pellegrini was in the stands after UEFA suspended the Chilean for his criticism of the first leg referee. Pellegrini instead watched from on high – as did England boss Roy Hodgson and his Argentina counterpart Alejandro Sabella.
The game enjoyed a lively start. At one point Sergio Aguero latched on to a loose ball and raced towards the Barca goal, only for Messi to track his compatriot and steal possession on the edge of the Barca penalty area.
Barca felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Lescott challenged Messi and didn’t take much if anything of the ball, but the referee waved away the Barca complaints.
Neymar had the ball in the back of the net but the goal was disallowed for an offside against Alba, who supplied the Brazil international – from an onside position, replays suggested.
City’s approach centred around trying to win the ball back early but they strayed on the wrong side of the law, according to the referee, picking up three yellow cards inside 30 minutes.
Neymar went closer after Aleksandar Kolarov slipped, the forward shooting for Hart’s near post but the goalkeeper parried out for a corner. Hart had to be alert from the resulting set-piece too after the ball was worked to Xavi Hernandez, England’s No.1 making the block.
Fernandinho later cleared off the line from Neymar as Barca ended the first half strongly, but Samir Nasri’s effort prior to that kept Victor Valdes alert and suggested City weren’t dead and buried yet.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw more goal-mouth action than almost the entirety of the first 45 – Dzeko, on for the injured Aguero, stung Valdes’ palms and had a header tipped over the bar while Zabaleta sliced wide.
For Barca, Messi hit the post after Lescott gave the ball away to Neymar and the pair broke, while Hart had to be brave to prevent Fabregas converting on the slide. Messi went close again on the hour and didn’t have to wait long to score.
Lescott failed to deal with a Fabregas through ball and Messi got in behind the defence to loft the ball past Hart to essentially seal the tie.
Then came City’s turn to feel aggrieved with the referee as a Pique foul on Dzeko didn’t bring the penalty the Premier League side felt it deserved – Zabaleta’s protests drawing a second yellow card.
Kompany scored as Barca again conceded from a corner, but it was too little, too late as Barca went through safely, Alves’ late strike sealing the win.
Barcelona 2-1 Man City (Barca win 4-1 on aggregate)
Scorer: Messi 67, Alves 92 (FCB), Kompany 89 (MCFC)
Zabaleta s/o 77
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc (Sergi 86); Neymar (Alexis 80), Messi, Iniesta
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure; Milner, Silva (Negredo 72), Nasri (Navas 75); Aguero (Dzeko 46)