Man City offer lame excuse for Euro failure after Barca defeat
Another red card and concerns over Sergio Aguero as City limp out of Champions League
Barcelona 2 Manchester City 1 [Barcelona win 4-1 on aggregate]. There was no Manchester miracle last night in the Camp Nou, just another defeat for the Sky Blues as they exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage, just as Arsenal had done to Bayern Munich 24 hours earlier. And the two results only emphasised the gulf in class between England's finest and the quality sides on the Continent.
City captain Vincent Kompany, who scored his side's only goal of the tie on 89 minutes, struck a defiant note afterwards, declaring: "If anything it should give us motivation... it's only the third year ever for Manchester City in the Champions League. I'm looking at this and I don't see why next year we should fear anyone."
It was a lame excuse by the Belgian that City are still easing themselves into the competition. With the talent they have in their ranks, the English side should have more to show for their Champions League efforts over three years than two group stage exits and an appearance in the last 16.
Barcelona, by way of contrast, have now reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the seventh consecutive season, only the third club to achieve such a feat after Manchester United and Real Madrid. Few expected them to slip up against City on Wednesday night and the Catalan club duly delivered a polished performance with Lionel Messi giving them the lead on 67 minutes and Dani Alves adding a second on the stroke of full-time just after Kompany had bundled the ball over the Barcelona line for City's consolation.
By that time City had seen Pablo Zabaleta sent off (the 26th red card for an opponent of Barcelona in the competition) for a second bookable offence and lost Sergio Aguero at half-time with a recurrence of his hamstring injury. "It is very early, so we cannot say how long he is going to be out," said Ruben Cousillas, City's assistant coach who was on media duty thanks to Manuel Pellegrini's two-match ban for criticising the officials in the first leg. "Hopefully, it is nothing serious, but he felt some pain. It is more a precaution, but we are doing some tests to assess it."
City meanwhile require some TLC of their own after a week in which they have been knocked out of two competitions. The defeat to Barcelona, coming on the back of Sunday's shock loss at home to Wigan in the quarter-final of the FA Cup, means that at least City can now channel all their energies towards catching Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. "Until last weekend, we were the only team chasing four trophies," said Cousillas. "We are out of two, but still very much alive in the Premier League. The team have been through some low times, but we are alive and we will fight for the title."