Match day four in Group C saw Manchester City beat Barcelona 3-1 in an historic Champions League night at the Etihad. Two goals from Ilkay Gundogan either side of a fine Kevin De Bruyne free-kick secured the comeback after Lionel Messi had put the visitors ahead in the first half.
City started the game with the intensity we have become used to seeing this season, not allowing Barca to settle into any kind of passing rhythm. However they didn’t manage to create any real chances and fell foul to a clinical counter attack on twenty-one minutes; City’s free-kick was cleared to Messi thirty yards from is own goal, he did well to turn and volley a pass into Neymar’s path. The Brazilian galloped into the acres of grass in front of him down the left wing before showing good vision to return the ball to Messi, who only needed a few touches to beat the defender and stroke the ball into the bottom left corner. A somewhat undeserved lead but a lead nonetheless.
The home side responded by stepping the intensity up a notch, and reaped the rewards five minutes before the break through summer signing Gundogan. An uncharacteristically sloppy pass from Sergi Roberto was collected by Sergio Aguero. The Argentine slipped Raheem Sterling in inside the area, the winger did well to spot Gundogan rushing in at the back post who made no mistake of firing in the equaliser. City should’ve taken the lead moments later, no one could get the killer touch to Fernandinho’s dragged effort. 1-1 at halftime.
Once again it was the Blues who came out of the traps livelier, Sterling found an opening but his first touch took the ball away from goal, and he was only able to find the side netting from a tight angle. They didn’t have to wait long to take the lead however. David Silva was brought down by Sergio Busquets 25 yards from goal. With a few City players joining the Barca wall, Ter Stegen was unsighted which allowed De Bruyne to fire into the German’s top corner, sparking joyous scenes amongst the home crowd. The home side dominated proceedings after taking the lead and were untroubled apart from an Andre Gomes strike that hit the bar.
The fans reacted to their team’s domination by urging them forward, and the inevitable third came with fifteen minutes to go curtesy of Ilkay Gundogan once again. A probing attack found the substitute Navas in room on the right; he whipped a ball in to Aguero who was only able to deflect it backwards, giving Gundogan the easiest of jobs, slamming the ball into the back of the net to put the game beyond doubt. The impressive German has now scored back to back braces for his new side.
Barca had nothing left to give and failed to work an opening as the home supporters relished in what would be their first competitive victory over the Spanish side in six attempts. The result puts City in a comfortable position to qualify from the group, a draw at home to Celtic should be enough to seal it with Borussia Monchengladbach unlikely to take anything from the Nou Camp. Pep Guardiola will be pleased to have put a bad run of form behind him with two impressive wins in the space of four days. Barcelona won’t be too worried by their performance as they’re still in pole position to top Group C.