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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Champions League: Manchester City Not Good Enough for Europe

Will Yaya Toure's return save City at Camp Nou
They may be a dominant force in domestic football back in England but in continental football, Manchester City is like the proverbial tick challenging a bull for a fight.

The Citizens, currently sitting second in the English Premier League, were for the umpteenth time beaten by La Liga’s number two Barcelona as the duo clashed in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout round match.

Two goals from Luis Suarez on his return to England since his mega-money move from Liverpool were enough to settle the game for the Catalans. The Uruguayan struck twice, his second goal coming exactly 15 minutes of his 15th minute opener.

Although City made the scoreline less damaging thanks to Sergio Aguero’s 69th minute goal, the Premier League champions offered barely any competition for their much-experienced European football rivals.

Barcelona’s goal in the 15th minute did not come as a surprise having dominated the proceedings from the off. Lionel Messi was involved in the first goal, the Argentine’s cross being headed by Vincent Kompany into the feet of Suarez who fired home the opener.

The next chance in the game fell for Edin Dzeko but the Bosnian headed wide. Messi reproduced his vintage     runs beating three City players before finding Jordi Alba who crossed for Suarez to tap home and doubled the visitor’s lead.

Dani Alves could have extended Barca’s lead had his audacious attempt been an inch or two lower with the ball hitting the crossbar before Samir Nasri came close before the interval.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side, beaten over two legs by Pep Guardiola in the same stage last season, came out firing in the second half. Javier Mascherano produced a fine block to deny Nasri before Dzeko headed straight at Ter Stegen in Barca goal.

City’s goal came just after the introduction of summer signing Wilfried Bony who made his Champions League debut in place of Dzeko. It was David Silva who spotted Sergio Aguero’s run with the Argentine firing home to give City some glimmer of hope with 21 minutes remaining. However,  four minutes later, Gael Glichy became the third player in the last three meetings with Barcelona to receive his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

Messi could have put the game and in essence the tie beyond City’s reach with a last minute penalty but the ‘Little Messiah’ saw his spot-kick saved by Joe Hart while he also headed the rebound wide with the goal gaping at him.

City travel to Camp Nou for the return leg in a fortnight and although Yaya Toure will be available for selection after serving his ban for a red card against CSKA Moscow, it’s hard, almost incomprehensible to think they will get a result that will knock Barcelona out of Europe.

Meanwhile Alvaro Morata scored the winner as Juventus edged out Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Juventus Stadium. The Serie A leaders took the lead through a 13th minute goal by Carlos Tevez only for Marco Reus to level and give Dortmund a vital away goal 5 minutes later. However, Morata connected to a Paul Pogba cross past BVB keeper Roman Weidenfeller 3 minutes before the interval to ensure the Old Lady will take a slim advantage to the Westanfaldion in the return leg.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!