Football

Manuel Pellegrini has no regrets despite Barcelona defeat

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Despite falling to a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 first leg last night, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he has no regrets about his approach to the game.

Pellegrini lined his City team up in 4-4-2 formation, partnering Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero up top as he vowed to attack the Spanish giants in stark contrast from his approach at the Etihad against the same side 12 months ago.

Things didn't go to plan however and City found themselves 2-0 down after just half an hour, thanks to a brace from former Premier League star Luis Suarez.

Clichy red card ruined comeback plans

Sergio Aguero did pull a goal back in the second half but a Gael Clichy red card just minutes later diminished any realistic hope of the hosts finding an equaliser.

As the game entered it's final moments things almost got even worse for City when a clumsy Pablo Zabaleta challenged gifted Lionel Messi the chance to extend Barca's advantage from the spot.

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Goalkeeper Joe Hart came to the rescue though, diving to his left to keep out Messi's spot-kick and give City faint hope of turning the tie on it's head when they travel to Spain in three weeks time.

A third for Barca would have left City needing to score three times in the second leg, and Pellegrini told BBC Sport: "It [Hart's penalty save] gives us more chance to win in Barcelona."

No regrets

Despite a lacklustre first half performance, Pellegrini insisted he was pleased with his team's second half showing.

Asked if he had any regrets about his attacking line-up, the City boss told the Manchester Evening News: "I am very happy with the way we played.

"It was the way we must play against Barcelona. I think we demonstrated that in the second half with the same names.

"Barcelona will always dominate some parts of the game, the midfield, but I repeat with the same players in the second half, - and losing 2-0that is more difficult - I think that we demonstrated that that was theway we must play from the first minute.

"I think if we played the first half in the way we did the second half, surely the score would have been another one."

Mistakes there for all to see

Although Pellegrini claimed he was happy with his team's overall display, he did concede that his team made life difficult for themselves.

"We couldn’t put three passes together in the first half," he said. "There was a bit of confusion. We conceded an easy goal and played very bad until the first 45 minutes finished.

"After that we repeated the same mistakes as last year - one player sent off. To play for 15 or 20 minutes with a player less against Barcelona is very difficult."

Clichy was the man that saw red, for two yellow cards within 15 minutes, and he will now miss the second leg, while his dismissal means City have been reduced to ten men in their previous three games against Barca.

In last year's corresponding fixture Martin Demichelis was sent off shortly after half-time and in the second leg Pablo Zabaleta saw red for two yellow cards.

Although Clichy will miss the return leg, City will be boosted by the return of Yaya Toure who has now completed a three-game European ban.

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
UEFA Champions League
Barcelona

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