Player Ratings: Man City 3-1 Barcelona
Breath-taking City put Barcelona to the sword in what will go down as one of the club’s greatest-ever European performances
City were humiliated in their last encounter two weeks ago, but Guardiola’s side were able to enact revenge despite conceding an early goal. When Messi put the ball past Caballero at the 21st minute mark, a repeat from a fortnight ago looked likely.
Nevertheless, Man City did not lose sight of their game plan and began to grow more into the game. They did give their opponents a moment's breath on the ball and were rewarded on the 39th minute when Sterling’s unselfishly found Gundogan, who slotted away his chance.
After the restart, De Bruyne was moved from the wing to a more central position and the tactical paid instant dividends, as City started to gain a stranglehold on the game, dissecting Barcelona at will.
De Bruyne bagged himself a free kick on the 51st minute and Gundogan completed the rout on the 74th to seal Manchester City’s first competitive victory against Barcelona in six attempts.
W. Caballero (7) – The Argentine excellently deputised for the suspended Claudio Bravo, he dealt with aerial balls with consummate ease.
P. Zabaleta (7) – The right back attacked with purpose and was dogged in defence, he embodied his sides fighting spirit and riled up crowd at any given opportunity.
N. Otamendi (6) – In the first half the Argentinian was too hasty to attack the ball and got found out of position a number of times. After the break however, the centre back was solid and did not miss a step.
J. Stones (7) – A great performance from Stones, he read the game well and made a few important blocks. His commitment to defending was exemplary but almost cost his side a goal after a poor back pass put Suarez through
A. Kolarov (8) – Defended very well and got forward well on the overlap, putting in a few dangerous crosses - Nobody got the better of Kolarov on that flank.
Fernandinho (8) – Probably City’s most underrated player, he provided the engine in the midfield and was having a fine game before being substituted after picking up a knock.
I. Gundogan (9) – What a performance! By far his finest performance since his move - he was composed in possession, got forward superbly and was rewarded with two goals.
R. Sterling (9) – Worked tremendously hard, he was bright throughout the match and tracked back brilliantly. Provided the pinpoint pass for Gundogan’s first goal and was unlucky not have an early penalty. Ran himself into the ground and was taken off with 20 minutes remaining.
D. Silva (7) – He was the link between defence and attack, caused Barcelona problems with his intelligent play.
K. De Bruyne (9) – Was ineffectual when he played on the left, as soon as he moved more centrally he paid instant dividends for his side. Barcelona could not get near him and he devastated them with his precise passing. Scored a free kick just after the second half.
S. Aguero (7) – Selfless display from the striker, his hold up play for his team was superb and ran into avenues to make space for his teammates. Could not find the goal his performance richly deserved.
Fernando (7) – Came on in the 60th minute for the injured Fernandinho and did not miss a beat, filled in seamlessly as his side continued to control the game.
Jesus Navas (7) – Gave his team some much needed fresh legs and provided the cross that resulted in Gundogan’s second goal.
Nolito (N/A) – Made a late cameo.
A. Ter Stegen (6) – Should have done much better with De Bruyne’s free-kick but did well to keep the score as low as it was.
S. Roberto (5) – Was at fault for Man City’s equaliser, did well to cope with Man City’s threat from the left flank in the first half but was later overwhelmed.
J. Mascherano (6) – Was the best defender for Barcelona tonight which does not say much, made a number of crucial tackles but could not deal with the home sides athleticism.
S. Umitti (5) – Fortunate to not concede an early penalty after clearly fouling Sterling. Could not deal with quick incisive passing of city but was often left isolated by
L. Digne (4) – Simply put he could not handle Raheem Sterling. Sterling’s searing pace and dribbling left the Frenchmen exposed.
S. Busquets (5) – The usual ice-cold coolness Busquets typically displays evaporated tonight as he could not handle City’s high pressing – he was caught in possession on numerous occasions and conceded the free-kick that led to De Bruyne’s goal
I. Rakitic (5) – Looked sloppy in possession and allowed the game to bypass him – just not at the races.
Andre Gomes (7) – Was one Barcelona’s bright sparks, skipped past players with relative ease and was unlucky not draw the teams level when the game was situated at 2-1, when he saw his effort hit the bar.
L. Messi (7) – Scored an excellently taken goal after a brilliant counterattack that opened the scoring. Thereafter his impact on the game was limited as City effectively marked him out the game.
L. Suarez (6) – Was marked diligently by City and was made to work hard for every and any opportunity that came his way – not his night tonight.
Neymar (7) – Was the games best player in the opening exchanges and ran up most of the pitch before sliding the ball to Messi for the opener. Made little impact after the break as Man City had a stranglehold on the game.
Arda Turan (5) – Made little impact upon his arrival.
Rafinha (5) – Could not provide his team with a late spark.