Champions League

Pellegrini has Barca hope

2015-02-25 08:58
Manuel Pellegrini (Supplied)
Manuel Pellegrini (Supplied)

Manchester - Despite defeat by Barcelona, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said his side would take confidence from their second-half reaction into the return leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

A first-half brace from Luis Suarez helped Barcelona to a 2-1 win in Tuesday's first leg at the Etihad Stadium, but Sergio Aguero's 69th-minute goal and a stoppage-time penalty blunder by Lionel Messi gave City hope.

City lost Gael Clichy to a red card, echoing the dismissals of Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta during last season's 4-1 aggregate loss to Barcelona at the same stage of the competition, but Pellegrini expressed belief that they would turn the tie around at Camp Nou next month.

"In the way we have to play, I think we can do it," he said.

"We demonstrated in the second half that we are not a worse team than Barcelona.

"It's very important not to continue making the same mistakes. You can't have a player sent off in every game against Barcelona."

Messi won Barcelona's late penalty after he was felled by Argentina team-mate Zabaleta, but his spot-kick was parried by City goalkeeper Joe Hart and he headed the rebound wide of the left-hand post.

Given the extent of their first-half domination, when an attacking City team spent much of the time chasing shadows, a 3-1 win would not have flattered the visitors.

Pellegrini admitted that his team "could not put three passes together" as Barcelona turned on the style - Messi nonchalantly nutmegging David Silva deep inside the visitors' half at one point - but the City manager said Hart's save could prove a turning point.

"It was a very important save," said Pellegrini, who hopes to become the first manager to steer City to the Champions League quarter-finals.

"It was a very unnecessary penalty. We must control our emotion inside the box. Of course that gives us more chance to try to win in Barcelona; 3-1 is a very difficult score to try to reverse."

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