A dizzying display from Barcelona and Lionel Messi ensured that Man City never looked likely to overturn their 2-1 deficit, sending them crashing out of the Champions League whilst Barcelona march on to the quarter finals. The pressure now piles on Pellegrini, as his team again struggled in Europe whilst their hopes of defending their Premier League title have also taken a huge blow.
The gulf in class between the two squads was clear from the get-go, and Barcelona looked in the mood despite already leading the tie. Neymar hit the post early on whilst City struggled to maintain possession, and their struggles to get hold of the ball were evident through 4 first half bookings as their frustration mounted.
Barcelona effectively ended any hopes that City had in the 31st minute when Ivan Rakatic cleverly lobbed Joe Hart from a sublime cross-field pass from Messi. Barcelona looked the more likely to score again, with Messi putting on a masterclass and showing why he is one of the all-time greats with his extraordinary vision, skill and dribbling ability. The Argentine wowed the crowd by cooly nutmegging an oncoming James Milner, leaving the City midfielder on his backside and summing up the type of evening the Manchester club had.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Joe Hart putting in a heroic shift and somehow keeping out a barrage of attempts on his goal. The Catalan giants had 23 shots, with Hart making 10 saves (the most by an English keeper in the CL) which earned him the respect of the Barcelona players, crowd and those watching around the world.
Man City were marginally improved in the second half and came close to scoring after substitute Navas burst into the box, but his by-line cut-back failed to find a blue shirt. City were then given a glimmer of hope when Aguero went down in the box after being tripped by Gerard Pique with 12 minutes to play. Aguero took the penalty on himself, but it was a poor effort that was easily saved by Marc-Andre ter Stagen. It was Joe Hart that was the busier keeper in the closing stages, again brilliantly denying Suarez, Messi and Neymar to keep the scoreline respectable.
It was a mesmerising performance from Barcelona, with Lionel Messi pulling all the strings and creating havoc for Man City all night. Barcelona will like their chances of lifting the trophy for the 5th time after such a convincing performance, and thanks to the early exit of a number of big clubs.
It was a humbling experience for Man City who were outclassed from start to finish, and questions will now be asked after they have failed to reach the quarter finals in all 4 of their Champions League appearances. It is not just Pellegrini and City that have questions to answer however, as for the second time in three seasons there will be no Premier League club in the last 8. Everton are the only team remaining in European Competition, ensuring that there will plenty of reflection and debate on the reasoning for this poor showing from the Premier League in recent years.