Millennium Post

Vintage Barca too good for City

Vintage Barca too good for City
Ivan Rakitic scored the only goal of the night after half an hour as he lofted home from a majestic Lionel Messi pass. The English champions had their chances in the second half, but any hopes of an historic comeback were ended when Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a stunning penalty save from Sergio Aguero 12 minutes from time.

However, it was his opposite number who was the star of the show as Hart time and again prevented Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez from piling on more agony for City. Barca will now join La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in Friday’s draw for the last eight.

“A lot of them just hit me tonight, I just tried to stay big. It was busy. I just tried to smother them as much as I could,” said Hart, who had also saved a Messi penalty in the first leg, adding, “I wanted that first leg penalty save to count and unfortunately it hasn’t. We’ve gone out to a magnificent side but that’s the second time in two years and that’s disappointing. They’ve got fantastic players but we’ve had a big chance and unfortunately we didn’t take it.”

Barca boss Luis Enrique congratulated the City stopper, but felt a more comprehensive scoreline would have better reflected Barca’s dominance. “We had an incredible number of chances, which isn’t normal in this type of game. Perhaps we lacked a little bit of precision, but we also can’t take away the credit from Hart. We deserved to win much more comfortably given the chances we had,” said the Spaniard. Barcelona face Real Madrid in a potentially decisive clash in the Spanish title race on Sunday, but Luis Enrique’s men showed their minds were on the job in hand from the off and should have been ahead after just six minutes.

Dani Alves robbed a sleeping Vincent Kompany on the edge of his own box and fed Neymar, who had started to wheel away in celebration before his shot come back off the inside of the post and rebounded to safety. Hart then produced the first in a string of fine saves to turn behind a fierce drive from Messi, but there was some encouragement for City in the opening quarter, too, as Alves did just enough to deny James Milner a clear run on goal from Yaya Toure’s dangerous low cross.

Barca did finally make the breakthrough on the half hour as Messi lifted a cross into the path of Rakitic, who controlled the ball on his chest before lofting past Hart to register his first Champions League goal.
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