A Lionel Messi master class inspired Barcelona to a 1-0 victory over Manchester City and a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The mercurial talisman of the Camp Nou led the reigning English champions a merry dance during the first half, teasing his opponents with a series of nutmegs before creating the opening goal for Ivan Rakitic that ultimately sealed a 3-1 aggregate triumph.
City – who relied heavily on goalkeeper Joe Hart to keep them in the contest – were unable to make the impression they needed to after half-time as Sergio Aguero won and missed a late penalty, just as Messi had in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium.
Under-fire manager Manuel Pellegrini must now turn his attention back towards a Premier League title defence that has unravelled to the extent that his team face a battle to seal their return to the Champions League next term.
But, while a slump that now stands at four wins across 12 outings in all competitions has often seen City punch below their considerable weight domestically, on Wednesday they ran into a sublime side who enter Sunday’s El Clasico against Real Madrid with realistic designs on the top prizes at home and abroad.
Vincent Kompany’s form was under the microscope before kick-off and a lapse from the City captain almost allowed Barcelona to open the scoring in the fifth minute.
Dani Alves was alert to dispossess Kompany on the edge of his own penalty area, leaving Neymar to shoot against the base of Hart’s near post before the ball rolled agonisingly across the face of goal.