Manchester City, Pep Guardiola get revenge on Barcelona with stunning win

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring Manchester City's equalizer.
"We will have to be almost perfect to beat Barcelona," Pep Guardiola mused in typically intense fashion in his pre-match interview.
And, despite Manchester City's defensive frailties being laid bare again at times, this was indeed a near-perfect performance.
    Ilkay Gundogan's brace and a stunning Kevin De Bruyne free-kick canceled out Lionel Messi's opener to give City and Guardiola a famous win.
    "Obviously it was a big game for us, we knew we were under pressure," man of the match De Bruyne told BT Sport after the match.
    "The beginning was difficult, we made a few mistakes but the second half we were very good. I don't think Barcelona had many chances and we deserved the win."
    With several names missing, most notably Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Jordi Albla, there was a sense of expectation in the evening Manchester air that this could be City's night.
    Buoyed by a promising opening 15 minutes at the Nou Camp a fortnight ago, Guardiola's side again began at breakneck speed.
    Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling were relentless in their hassling and harrying, constantly buzzing around the Barcelona defense and looking for gaps to open up or endeavoring to create one themselves.
    Left-back Lucas Digne somehow escaped an early booking for a cynical foul on Sterling as he looked to break.
    Aguero then brilliantly wriggled free of the clutches of Ivan Rakitic and Digne, before finding Sterling on the edge of the area.
    The 21-year-old effortlessly danced past one challenge, then went down under a clumsy tackle from Samuel Umtiti.
    Referee Viktor Kassai blew his whistle immediately but, instead of pointing to the penalty spot, booked Sterling for diving, despite clear contact from the French defender.
    With Manchester City dominant for the opening 20 minutes, anything but a Barcelona goal looked likely.
    However, reminiscent of the reverse fixture two weeks ago, despite all that early City pressure, it was Barcelona which took the lead.
    There were just 14 devastatingly efficient seconds between David Silva's blocked shot and Lionel Messi sliding the ball past Willy Caballero into the City goal.
    Silva fired his effort into Umtiti's ankles and the ball broke kindly for Messi inside City's half. Barcelona's talisman hit a raking cross-field pass into Neymar, who shimmied inside and played a perfectly weighted ball back to Messi.
    From just inside the area, the outcome was inevitable as the Argentine passed the ball into the back of the net for his 90th Champions League goal.
    Despite the setback, City continued to press, spurred on by a dominant opening period and Guardiola's players got their reward just 18 minutes later.
    In a case of roles reversed, it was a mistake in the Barcelona defense which gifted City a route back into the game.
    Sergi Roberto's pass across his own back line missed Sergio Busquets and found Aguero. The Argentine played in Sterling, whose brilliant peripheral vision allowed him to pick out Gundogan to tap in at the far post.
    Manchester City ended the half in complete control and this time had something to show for its efforts.
    It's hard to imagine Guardiola's half-time team talk consisted of much more than "the same again" and City duly started the second half in identical fashion.
    Just five minutes into the second half, City took the lead. Busquets' foul on Silva 30 yards from goal hardly looked like the opportune moment to score, but De Bruyne thought otherwise.
    The Belgian, behind everything City did well on the evening, hit a dipping free-kick that Marc-André ter Stegen could only get fingertips too.
    With the players on a high and the Etihad booming, City started to turn the screw.
    Aguero saw a long-range strike fizz just past the post, before De Bruyne's free-kicks caused havoc inside the Barcelona area as Nicolas Otamendi and Aguero were inches away from getting telling touches.
    Despite a long period of sustained pressure, City was well aware of the danger Barcelona, in particular Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, posed on the break.
    It was with as much relief as elation, then, when Gundogan got his second to double the home side's lead.
    Another inch perfect through ball from De Bruyne found substitute Jesus Navas, whose cross ricocheted off Aguero as he lay on the floor and fell into the path of Gundogan to fire home.
    In truth, Barcelona rarely looked like troubling the scoreboard from there and its best chance came courtesy of John Stones.
    After brilliantly winning the ball back, the English defender erratically played a through ball to Suarez whose square pass found André Gomes, but the Portuguese could only rattle the crossbar.
    Gundogan echoed De Bruyne's post-match comments, although was keen to emphasize tonight's performance wasn't too dissimilar to the 4-0 defeat two weeks ago.
    "We started a big nervous, especially the first 20 or 30 minutes," the German said.
    "But after our goal, which was really good, we got our confidence back and the second half was incredible, we dominated Barcelona and had chances to score. The result was more than deserved."
    "Everybody knows the style we play and even for Barcelona we try to do the same. Obviously it's difficult against them, we did it in Barcelona and had a little less luck but today everything fell for us."
    And to cap off a perfect evening for Guardiola, in Group C's other clash, Celtic earned a surprise draw away at Borussia Moenchengladbach to leave City just two points behind Barcelona and three clear of the third-placed German side.