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Barcelona 4-0 Manchester City: Lionel Messi scores a hat-trick as Claudio Bravo sees red for visitors

After the second of Lionel Messi's three goals went in, Pep Guardiola ran his hand anxiously across the top of his head. The Manchester City coach looked like a man who was watching his house burn down fully aware that it was he who had left the toaster on.


This, for all Messi's enduring and captivating brilliance, was defeat by managerial error.

City, as Guardiola had hoped, proved a match for Barcelona at times here. It seems strange to say given the scoreline but City began each half the better and they created several clear chances. In their previous visits to the Nou Camp in the Champions League they had not managed to do this. For the first time, this was competitive. It was, for example, only 1-0 to Barcelona at half-time and Luis Enrique had already lost two of his back four to injury.

Ultimately, though, decisions cost City and they were Guardiola decisions.

As a direct result of them, City ended this night thoroughly embarrassed as their run without a win stretched to four games. Strangely, Sergio Aguero was not selected here.
Barcelona 4-0 Manchester City: Lionel Messi scores a hat-trick as Claudio Bravo sees red for visitors 
Guardiola explained he wanted strength in his midfield and the football sages no doubt nodded earnestly. But at times football is a startlingly simple game.

The City manager had said he wanted to win this match so surely his team needed a proper centre forward, still needed their best player. As a result of his exclusion, the Premier League team lacked the necessary expertise when their chances arrived.

Interestingly, Aguero was not on the field during the pre-match warm up. He did jog down the line early in the second half but was not brought on. Make of all that what you will.

And what now, meanwhile, of Guardiola's decision to jettison Joe Hart back in August?

Claudio Bravo, a goalkeeper purchased for his expertise with his feet, did what he has done consistently since arriving in Manchester. He made a mistake with his feet.

In presenting the ball to Luis Suarez in the 53rd minute, Bravo was forced to save the resulting shot and was sent off for handling outside the penalty area.

It was a horror moment and it sunk City. Already a goal down to Messi's early strike, City were nevertheless well in the game at that moment but within minutes of Bravo's exit Messi scored again. Then, seven minutes later, he scored again. A contest had become a walkover in a matter of minutes and Guardiola's return to his home had turned in to an exercise in self-destruction.

Managers are paid to make big decisions, of course, and occasionally they go wrong. But it is impossible to ignore Guardiola's decisively wretched influence on this game.

Early on, there seemed little alarm. The Aguero question hung in the air from the moment the team sheets dropped but with Kevin De Bruyne asked to operate at the top of City's formation there was a briskness about the visiting team.

Barcelona were not initially at their best. They were sloppy in possession and provided space for City's forward players to operate in. Raheem Sterling was progressive down the right while Ilkay Gundogan was bright in the centre of the field.

There was no Aguero, though. There was no real focal point and after City failed to turn early superiority in to goals, they handed Barcelona the lead. www.dailymail.co.uk

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