|Messi scoring vs Manchester City|
It was a Lionel Messi night at the Camp Nou, one he just decided to take over. The Argentina star helped Barça make it three wins from three in the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League season with a hat-trick against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.
Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola went head-to-head in a tactical battle and both parties started mysterious lineups. Lucho played a 4-3-3, in a style that looked like a false 3-4-3 with Javier Mascherano as a RB after Sergi Roberto didn’t pass fit. Pep Guardiola opted for De Bruyne as a false 9, leaving Sergio Aguero on the bench.
Manchester City started with great momentum, pressing Barça high up the pitch. Jordi Alba picked up a knock and was subbed off for Lucas Digne after 10 minutes. Barça however, were the ones to open the scoring and it was none other than Messi.
Mascherano did well to charge and win the ball close to the centre line that met Messi, the Argentina moved ball and made a pass which redirected back to his path and he capitalized on a slip by Fernandinho to get the ball in the box before making a fool of Bravo, rounding him and slotting into an empty net.
Manchester City kept on pressing but Barça’s defence of Umtiti and Pique were up to the task. Neymar had a shot saved by Bravo and Rakitic headed a Messi freekick cross wide off goal.
Nolito came close to equalising for the visitors forcing a save off Ter Stegen. Pique got a rash tackle earlier on from Silva and was forced off for Jeremy Mathieu with just 39 minutes played, leaving Barça with only one substitution left.
Ter Stegen was called into action once again to deny Ilkay Gundogan who did well yo beat the injured Piqué and force a superb reflex save off the Barça goalkeeper who could do nothing about John Stones’ header from a Silva delivery and was lucky it went wide.
Messi found Suarez with a pass late in the first half and the striker did well to go past John Stones, but his shot was saved by Claudio Bravo. It ended 1-0 at halftime.
The former Barça goalkeeper turned to the villain in the second half, making a terrible pass that found Luis Suarez instead of his new Man City teammate and the Uruguayan striker’s shot was handled by Bravo deliberately from outside the box and he was shown a straight red card. Bravo’s dismissal was soured by Zabaleta’s injury seconds later and the Captain was forced off for Willy Caballero who replaced Bravo in goal.
Messi made it 2-0 minutes later from a beautiful strike. Andres Iniesta got the ball close to the City area and found Messi who took two touches before unleashing a powerful low shot to beat Caballero in the tightest of angles. Barça began to flow.
It was 3-0 after 70 minutes as Ilkay Gundogan gave away the ball close to midfield and Luis Suarez capitalized, creating space for himself on the left before selflessly feeding Messi for a tap-in.
Jeremy Mathieu committed two fouls in the space of three minutes on Raheem Sterling to pick up two yellow cards and get sent off, making it ten men for both teams.
Barça had a chance to make it 4-0 after Messi destroyed Manchester City’s defence to win a penalty, but Neymar’s kick was easily saved by Caballero. Neymar would take revenge minutes later, the Brazilian did well to carry the ball from the back and exchanged a pass with Messi, destroyed his marker in the box and slotted past Caballero to make it 4-0.
The win means Barça top group C with 9 points. Their next game come again Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.