Javier Mascherano's club loyalties trumped those associated with his country after helping Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen save international compatriot Sergio Aguero's penalty in last night's Champions League last 16 second leg clash at Camp Nou.
Video footage of the Argentinean midfielder pointing in the direction that the Manchester City striker would place his spot-kick swept across social media within minutes of the full-time whistle on Wednesday evening.
Mascherano can be clearly seen assisting the Barca goalkeeper in the build-up to Aguero's penalty by advising him to dive to his right hand side, based on his intuition that the Citizens marksman prefers shooting to his left.
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With the score tentatively poised at 1-0 on the night - and 3-1 on aggregate in the Catalan club's favour - a Manchester City goal with a little over ten minutes remaining would've set up a grandstand finish in Spain, as the Premier League outfit would've required just one more goal to take the two-legged tie to extra time.
Unfortunately for the visitors Aguero fluffed his lines after Mascherano's prediction was right, and Ter Stegen successfully parried the South American's shot to maintain his clean sheet, and even more crucially keep daylight between City and Barcelona heading into the final period.
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Manuel Pellegrini's side continued to press for the remaining minutes, but failed to really test their opponents again. There was a real sense that the penalty miss had knocked the stuffing out of Manchester City, who crashed out at the first knockout stage of Europe's elite club competition for the fourth consecutive campaign.
The best team won
In truth, the Chilean coach's players didn't deserve to progress having been completely outplayed by Barcelona, who registered 23 shots on Joe Hart's goal, only to find the England international in inspired form to keep Luis Enrique's team at bay.
Hart was unable to stop Ivan Rakitic's lobbed effort midway through the first half, but recovered from that to produce a stunning man of the match performance that prompted Lionel Messi to label the No.1 custodian a 'phenomenon'.
Manchester City are now at serious risk of finishing the 2014/15 campaign without a trophy having been dumped out of the Champions League. They are six points behind leaders Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title, and the fact that Jose Mourinho's side also have a game in hand means the holders face an uphill battle to close the gap.
As a result, there has already been rumours regarding Pellegrini's future at the Etihad Stadium with some speculation suggesting the former Malaga head coach could be sacked at the end of the season.
Manchester City fans: Do you think Manuel Pellegrini deserves to lose his job after crashing out of the Champions League? If so, who would you like to see succeed the Chilean as manager? Share your thoughts below…
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