Manchester City staged a thrilling comeback, pressing high to stave off Barcelona’s formidable attack and secure a fully deserved 3-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Lionel Messi scored his 90th Champions League goal after a superb counter-attack as the Argentinian finished cooly from Neymar’s pass to put Barcelona firmly in control early in the first half.
However, glimpses of hope appeared for City six minutes before the interval when Sergi Roberto’s mistake allowed Raheem Sterling to set up Ilkay Gundogan for a simple finish, equalizing the scores.
The Blues, seeking their first win over Barcelona at the sixth attempt, rallied after half time and took the lead as Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick curved past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 51st minute.
Andre Gomes crashed found the woodwork as Barcelona search n vain for an equaliser, but City wrapped up what was a landmark win against manager Pep Guardiola’s former team with 16 minutes left when De Bruyne played in Jesus Navas and, when his cross fell loose from Sergio Aguero, Gundogan was once more on the spot to score.
Guardiola’s methods may have been questioned after City’s 4-0 defeat by Barca themselves at the Nou Camp, but this was the type of result Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners had in mind when they brought him to the Etihad.
It was a win achieved with all the Guardiola hallmarks, in a blaze of attacking football, passing, movement and courage to take on the best without forsaking any of his principles.
Amidst that victory which could be remembered for years to come, City will reach the last sixteen of the competition if they win on 23 November at Borussia Monchengladbach, who drew with Celtic by 1-1.