Barcelona shatter City dreams

Ibrahimovic sparkles with a brace as Paris St Germain blank Bayer Leverkusen

Barcelona shatter City dreams

Barcelona virtually ended 10-man Manchester City's dreams of European glory when they dominated their Champions League last 16 first leg and finished deserved 2-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

In another match, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as Paris St Germain toyed with German side Bayer Leverkusen in a 4-0 win. 

Billed as the biggest match in City's recent history, it all went wrong for Manuel Pellegrini's side after 53 minutes when defender Martin Demichelis was sent off for a last-man lunge on fellow Argentine Lionel Messi who scored from the resulting penalty to put Barca ahead.

Their second goal came in the last minute when Dani Alves collected a pass from substitute Neymar and fired through goalkeeper Joe Hart's legs to give City an almost impossible task of rescuing the tie in the second leg on March 12 at Nou Camp.

The defeat sparked an out-of-character attack from Pellegrini who accused Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson of favouring Barca and the Chilean risks a reprimand and possible severe punishment from soccer's European governing body UEFA. "I spoke to him at the end and told him he should be very happy because he decided the match," Pellegrini told reporters. "Barcelona had no chance to score until the penalty against Demichelis. The referee was not impartial. He did not have any control of the game. I think it was not a good idea to have a referee from Sweden in such an important match.

Asked why it was relevant that the referee was Swedish, he replied: "More important football is played in Europe than in Sweden so a big game with two important teams - that kind of game needs a referee with more experience."

It was also City's first in the knockout rounds of the competition and they rarely showed the kind of form that has brought them 117 goals in all matches this season and prompted talk of a quadruple haul of trophies before this setback. City had few chances, with the best falling to David Silva in the 77th minute when he chested the ball down and then volleyed at Victor Valdes who saved well. But on the whole Barcelona silenced the home fans and blunted City's attacks which were few and far between.

PSG win

Ibrahimovic scored with a stunning long-range strike as Paris St Germain sauntered to a 4-0 win at Leverkusen which clearly demonstrated they are among the Champions League favourites. The volatile Swedish striker, who had converted a penalty three minutes earlier, struck a rising shot into the top corner from 25 metres to cap a performance which included his usual mix of nonchalance, arrogance and breath-taking skill.

Ibrahimovic, who argued constantly with his opponents and appeared to taunt them near the end, was also involved in PSG's other two goals, scored by Blaise Matuidi and substitute Yohan Cabaye as he took his tally in this season's competition to 10. PSG totally dominated the last-16 first-leg match, playing long periods of delightful possession football with midfield trio Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Matuidi also outstanding.

Leverkusen, second in the Bundesliga but with a poor recent European record, were never in the hunt after Matuidi scored in the third minute. The Germans, beaten 5-0 at home by Manchester United in their final group match, had to wait 36 minutes for their first shot on target and did not produce a genuine opening until 13 minutes from the end. The Bundesliga side's misery was extended when defender Emir Spahic was sent off in the 59th minute for a foul on Lucas and they may have been relieved to finish losing by just four goals.

The visitors extended their lead in the 39th minute when Spahic was penalised for an off-the-ball tackle on Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic fired the penalty into the bottom left- hand corner. Ibrahimovic produced his masterpiece three minutes later, striking a rising, first-time shot into the far top corner after Matuidi rolled the ball back to him. Midfielder Cabaye struck two minutes from time to complete the rout. 

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