Rakitic on target as Messi-inspired Barca sink City

BARCELONAA, March 19: Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona completely outclassed Manchester City as an Ivan Rakitic strike secured a 1-0 win today (March 19, morning, Singapore time) that sent the Spanish giants into the Champions League quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate.

Messi has been in blistering form for the Catalan side and he delighted the home fans in a packed Nou Camp as he relentlessly teased the City players with his party tricks.

 Holding the advantage from the first leg, Barca could afford to sit back and hit the Premier League side on the break.

City struggled badly in defence against Barca’s pace and movement, with the breakthrough coming after 31 minutes when Messi found Rakitic, who coolly lobbed the ball over visiting keeper Joe Hart.

Barca also hit the woodwork through Neymar and Luis Suarez, and keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a Sergio Aguero penalty in a victory that enabled them to reach the quarter-finals for a record eighth successive year.

It is the second straight season that City have been knocked out by Barcelona at this stage and it means there will be no English representative in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition.

Barca coach Luis Enrique brought Jeremy Mathieu in at centre back for Javier Mascherano, who covered for the injured Sergio Busquets in midfield.

City’s hopes depended on having a tight defence, but under-fire centre back Vincent Kompany gifted the hosts a golden chance after five minutes, when Dani Alves stole the ball off him and set up Neymar, whose shot came back off the left post.

The visitors had a lot of the ball but they were torn apart when they lost possession.

Messi had a shot from a tight angle saved by Hart after 10 minutes and the Barcelona forward line were on the receiving end of some wild challenges as City tried to keep them at bay.