Gundogan’s brace drives Man City past Barcelona 3-1

Manchester, Nov 2 (IANS) German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan fired a brace as Manchester City managed their first win in six Champions League meetings against Catalan football powerhouse FC Barcelona with a 3-1 victory here.

Lionel Messi on Tuesday put the visitors ahead in the 21st minute but City turned things around in style with the equaliser coming from Gundogan in the 39th minute.

Belgian attacking midfielder Kevin de Bruyne put the hosts ahead in the 51st minute before Gundogan scored again to make it an impregnable 3-1 as Barcelona were stymied.

With this win Pep Guardiola-coached City have seven points from four games and are second in the Group C behind Barcelona, who have nine points.

City have two Group C matches left — Borussia Monchengladbach away in two weeks’ time, before finishing off with a game at home to Celtic on December 6. A point away in Monchengladbach will seal City’s qualification to the last 16.

City, who had lost to Barcelona in Spain on October 19, started brightly, pressing high and taking the game to the Catalan outfit.

They have been accused of looking overawed in games against Catalan giants in the past — but this was different. Guardiola wants his side to be bold and take the game to the opposition and his ideas are clearly being transmitted.

Raheem Sterling was denied a penalty when he was tripped in the area by Samuel Umtiti after 11 minutes. It looked a harsh decision by referee Viktor Kassai, who booked Sterling for a supposed dive.

City were doing all the early running but Barcelona, as ever, were a threat on the break. Neymar ran into a huge area of space towards goal he fed the onrushing Messi, who skipped past a challenge and slotted past City goalkeeper Willy Caballero to give the away side the 1-0 lead after 21 minutes.

Barcelona took control of the game for the next 15 minutes — but momentum at this level can change quickly. City were level after before half time — Gundogan scoring from Sterling’s pass across the area — and moments were almost ahead, but Aguero couldn’t apply the finishing touch to Fernandinho’s pass.

City started the second half in the ascendancy and were soon ahead. Sterling hit the side-netting from a good position moments after the restart, before De Bruyne struck a superb free-kick from 20 yards that flew past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 2-1.

City pressed Barcelona, squeezing them every time they got the ball and it was a tactic that paid dividends.

They scored a third after doing exactly that, with Gundogan grabbing his second of the night after good work from substitute Jesus Navas in the 74th minute. This goal sealed the match for City.

–IANS

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