Lionel Messi provided another dazzling display on 18 March 2015 as Barcelona knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League, and City coach Manuel Pellegrini says its time to focus on the Premier League.
The Argentine set up Ivan Rakitic for the only goal in the 1-0 victory, 3-1 on aggregate, and while he didnt score himself he also entertained the Camp Nou crowds while he mesmerised the City players.
I think it has been a very special and positive night for us: for the team, for our fans. We reached our goals and we have avoided speculation around our results. Then we had a lot of scoring chances, and that is quite unusual in these tense matches, Luis Enrique told reporters after the match.
Well, that is our luck, to have Leo Messi in our team. It is not normal, we are too used to see him play that way. It is funny that he didnt score in any of the ties but he was the key player in both. It is a great pleasure and a great luck to all Barca fans to see him play at this level.
Barca have now won 17 of their last 18 games in all competitions. City were knocked out by Barca in the last 16 for a second successive year and the pressure is growing on coach Manuel Pellegrini with the team also stumbling in the Premiership. There they now trail leaders Chelsea by six points having lost two of the last three matches.
The team has spent £327 million since the start of the 2011-12 season and yet once again at Barca they were not able to live with their opponents attacking play.
I dont see this as failure, but as a disappointment. I think this team has grown bigger in the past few years as we made it to the last 16 and that is something we didnt before, said Pellegrini.
We had bad luck and the draw put us together with Barcelona two years in a row in the qualifier. This year is also a special year as we had very hard restrictions regarding how many players we could play the Champions League as well as budget restrictions. It is frustrating because we had our moments and we could have changed the course of the match. But I have to say Barcelona is a better team than us at the moment, he said, adding he was confident that the team would now make progress as it concentrated on trying to win the Premiership.
It is very important to focus our mind now just on the Premier League. I repeat it was a very difficult stage of the Champions League against, for me, the best team in the world because they have the best player, thats Barcelona. I repeat I think it is a deception not to continue but we did what we could. We will see now what happens in the last nine games but I hope that we recover and we will just focus on our league, he stated.