Lionel Messi spurned the opportunity to put further daylight between Barcelona and Manchester City in last night's Champions League last 16 first leg clash after failing to convert a 94th minute penalty at the Etihad Stadium.
The Argentine superstar's embarrassment was compounded even further when presented with an open-goal from the rebound seconds later, fluffing his lines to send a weak header wide of Joe Hart's post.
That incident provided Manuel Pellegrini's side with a brief glimmer of hope heading back to Camp Nou as the tie remained tentatively poised 2-1 in the Catalan club's favour. Travelling to Spain with a two-goal deficit would probably have been too difficult a task for the Citizens.
Luis Enrique said in the build-up to the game that Barca were not the favourites for Tuesday's clash, but after starting the match at a blistering pace they blew their Premier League opponents away thanks to two goals from the returning Luis Suarez inside the first half hour.
The former Liverpool striker's quick-fire brace put the visitors in a commanding position, but Sergio Aguero halved the deficit with a smart run and finish midway through the second half.
Gael Clichy was later sent off for a second bookable offence, which meant City's task was made even harder with only ten men, and when Messi was presented with a chance to restore Barcelona's two-goal lead with a stoppage time spot-kick the writing looked to be on the wall for the hosts.
The four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner was fouled by Pablo Zabaleta in the box in virtually the last piece of action in the game. But after dusting himself off he failed to make his penalty count after Hart parried his effort, and he could not direct his diving header on target either, with the goal at his mercy.
"I hope it proves to be important, just as important as the open goal that was missed straight after it!" reflected the Manchester City goalkeeper in an interview with Sky Sports after the game. “I can't decorate the save, it was not that good, but these little things can hopefully turn tides."
Asked for his thoughts on his side's chances of advancing to the quarter-finals of Europe's elite club competition on March 18, the England international added that the players remain confident of getting the job done in Catalonia.
"Loads of belief. First half, up until the first goal, we were in the game, but Barcelona took their goals well. Other than that, we stayed in the game, and I have not been overly busy all night.
"It was a great goal from Sergio and we had other chances. We go home with a chance."
Manchester City fans: Do you think Lionel Messi's penalty miss could be a turning point in the encounter? What chances do you have of scoring twice at Camp Nou in three weeks time? Share your thoughts below...
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