Match Report: Barcelona 4-0 Man City
- Messi nets a hat-trick as Barcelona thrash the Premier League leaders.
Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo endured a nightmarish return to the Nou Camp, as the Chilean was sent off for handling a Luis Suarez shot outside the area.
The main talking point before the match was Guardiola’s decision to leave star striker Sergio Aguero on the bench, with De Bruyne taking his place up front, operating as a false 9. He wouldn’t make an appearance until the 79th minute, replacing Gundogan. It was Luis Enrique who made the first change, albeit a forced one, with Digne coming on for an injured Jordi Alba in the opening ten minutes.
The opening exchanges were a very even affair, with both teams enjoying their fair share of possession, with Man City perhaps shading the first fifteen minutes. However, an unfortunate slip by Fernandinho in his own penalty area allowed Messi to drift onto the ball who calmly took the ball around Bravo before slotting the ball into an empty net.
The Man City boss was back at the club in which he will forever be intrinsically connected to and his side, despite going a goal down, were causing Barcelona problems. The chances of Manchester City getting something out the game grew more promising as star defender Pique was left hobbling off the pitch with Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu replacing him.
The tide of the game changed in Barcelona’a favour on the 53rd minute, when Bravo was sent off for a moment of utter madness which effectively put the game out of City’s reach.
Caballero replaced Bravo between the sticks and just four minutes after his arrival on the pitch, Messi added his and Barcelona’s second of the game with a clinical finish from outside the box.
Only eight minutes later Messi ensured that he was taking home the match ball, after Suarez capitalised on another Man City individual error to lay the ball off generously to Barcelona’s number 10 who simply couldn’t miss.
Barcelona were themselves reduced to ten men when the energetic Raheem Sterling was on the end of two yellow card offences by Mathieu in a three minute period.
In spite of Mathieu’s dismissal, Barcelona continued to cut their visitors apart and Neymar was given a golden opportunity from the spot after Messi was fouled in the box by Kolarov. Although he missed his cue from the spot, Neymar would not be undeterred in his quest to score and got his goal just two minutes after his penalty miss, by dancing past a weary Man City defence to slot the ball home to make it 4. Completing Guardiola’s humiliation at his former club.