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X 16.1 purechao black

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8:14 pm
November 1, 2016


four

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posts 156

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Kevin De Bruyne was also on target with a sublime free-kick
as City responded to Lionel Messi's early strike in remarkable fashion.

City's performance was not only an emphatic response to the 4-0 thrashing in
the Nou Camp a fortnight ago that had people questioning manager Pep Guardiola's
methods, but reignited their challenge in Group C.

It was a compelling, breathless contest in which both sides created numerous
chances against fallible defences.

City had a strong penalty claim turned down early on while Andre Gomes hit
the woodwork for Barca. Yet these were just a couple of many memorable moments
that contributed to what will be remembered as a classic, and what was perhaps
the dawn of a new era for City in Europe.

The hosts started with Sergio Aguero in attack, following his surprise
omission at the Nou Camp, and looked all the more dangerous for it.

There was a huge sense of anticipation as the Argentinian broke through a
gap, relishing the chance to take on a defence lacking Gerard Pique and Jordi
Alba, in the opening minutes.

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On that occasion he was flagged offside but it was
an indication of City's determination to attack and that same inclination should
have yielded a penalty for Raheem Sterling after 10 minutes.

The England forward looked to have been trodden on by Samuel Umtiti as he
burst into the area but instead, to widespread disbelief, found himself booked
for diving by Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai.

City were sensing another opportunity when Barcelona once again showed their
ruthless side to snatch the lead with a clinical counter-attack.

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David Silva floated a free-kick into the Barca area and
the fit-again Pablo Zabaleta teed up a shooting chance for Aguero. Javier
Mascherano blocked and in an instant everything changed as Messi swept the ball
forward to release Neymar. The Brazilian raced clear and then played a perfect
return pass for Messi behind the retreating defence. Much the same as a
fortnight ago, Messi made no mistake as he jinked into the area and finished
coolly.

The shock of conceding in such a sudden manner seemed to take the sting out
of City for a time and Barca could easily have increased their lead. Neymar had
a shot from a tight angle tipped away by Willy Caballero and another effort
blocked, while Gomes was also thwarted and Luis Suarez spurned two chances.

But City were gifted a way back into the game six minutes before the break as
Sergi Roberto played a casual ball across his own box and Aguero intercepted. He
quickly released Sterling and his low ball to the far post was thumped in by
Gundogan.

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The complexion of the game changed again and
Aguero was inches away from getting the final touch to a Fernandinho drive in
front of goal.

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Both sides committed fully to attack and Messi appealed for a
penalty after a Fernandinho tackle before Sterling was let down by a poor touch
after being put through on goal.

City's efforts were rewarded after Sergio Busquets bundled Silva over outside
the area to give De Bruyne his chance. Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen
made a slight movement in the wrong direction and De Bruyne took full advantage
as he lifted the ball over the wall and beyond the German's reach.

Barca were unlucky not to equalise as Gomes rattled the bar following a
Suarez break but, in a dramatic passage of play, they were also reprieved as De
Bruyne shot wide at the other end seconds later.

The next goal was critical and City got it after another slick attack. De
Bruyne released substitute Jesus Navas with a fine throughball and his pull-back
struck Aguero before being tucked in by Gundogan. Ter Stegen claimed Aguero had
handled but his complaints fell on deaf ears.

It was the goal that ended Barcelona's challenge and City held on to
celebrate a famous victory.

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