Barcelona - Manchester City's Claudio Bravo and Pep
Guardiola endured a nightmare return to Barcelona as Lionel Messi's hat-trick
spearheaded a 4-0 Champions League rout for the Spanish champions on Wednesday.
Guardiola led Barca to 14 trophies in a glorious four-year
reign between 2008 and 2012, but his homecoming was undone by a series of
shocking defensive errors and Messi's clinical touch on his return from injury.
Messi pounced on Fernandinho's slip to give Barca a
half-time lead before goalkeeper Bravo was sent off for handling Luis Suarez's
shot outside the area.
Two more sumptuous Messi finishes soon followed and Neymar
made amends for missing a penalty with a brilliant individual run and finish
for Barca's fourth after Jeremy Mathieu's red card left both sides with 10 men.
City now trail Barca by five points at the top of Group C.
Guardiola's decision to jettison England number one Joe Hart
to bring in Bravo at the start of the season will once again come under the
spotlight as the Chilean's difficult start to life at City cost the visitors
"It is always difficult to play in Barcelona with 11
players and with 10 the game was over," said Guardiola.
"He (Bravo) has a lot of experience, he is one of the
best goalkeepers in the world for the last 10 years, but he will learn and is
the first one in the dressing room to apologise."
Early on it looked as if Guardiola was to get one over on
his former team-mate, Barca coach Luis Enrique, as City hemmed the hosts inside
their own half and enjoyed the vast majority of possession.
The course of the game changed with one huge error on 17
minutes, though, as Fernandinho's untimely slip left Messi free inside the area
and he calmly rounded Bravo to slot home on his first start for a month after a
"It is an exaggerated result due to the clear errors
and against the players we have they are decisive," said Enrique.
City could easily have pulled themselves level as Marc-Andre
ter Stegen turned Nolito's angled drive behind before the German made a
stunning stop from international team-mate Ilkay Gundogan.
Bravo's moment of madness ended any hopes of a fightback
eight minutes into the second half when he gifted possession to Suarez and then
saved the Uruguayan's effort whilst outside his box to prompt an obvious red
City were still reeling from that blow when Messi curled
home at the near post - a finish reminiscent of his opening goal when Guardiola
also suffered a 3-0 drubbing on his only previous return to the Camp Nou as a
visiting coach with Bayern Munich two seasons ago.
By contrast, Ter Stegen continued to shine at the other end
as he produced another stunning save to turn Kevin de Bruyne's low effort to
Messi completed his second hat-trick in as many Champions
League games this season 21 minutes from time thanks to another City gift.
Gundogan this time presented the ball to Suarez, who
unselfishly squared for Messi to slot home.
Mathieu picked up two yellow cards in three minutes to
balance up the numbers on each side.
But by then the damage had already been done as after
winning his first 10 games in charge, Guardiola's men have now gone four
matches without a win.
Willy Caballero looked to have saved City from further
embarrassment as he stopped Neymar's penalty three minutes from time.
But the Brazilian responded in style by dancing past a
series of tired City defenders before slotting into the far corner.