WATCH: All The Goals As Pep's City Come Of Age By Dismantling Barcelona
Champions League Contenders?
It's difficult to recall a noise like it at the Etihad Stadium since the famous Sergio Aguero goal against QPR to win the Premier League in 2012.
At about 9.35pm on Tuesday night, referee Victor Kassai blew the final whistle and City manager Pep Guardiola exchanged handshakes with Barcelona staff before heading down the tunnel without as much as a smile. Job done.
There were smiles all around him however as City players and supporters were coming to terms with achieving something they have failed to do five times since February 2014 by avoiding defeating against the Catalan giants.
Not only that, City put the five time European champions to the sword with a performance that will live long in the memory. Inspired by Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan, the way in which City came back from adversity indicates a new found maturity that has been lacking in previous European campaigns.
Having being crushed 4-0 by the same opponents at the Nou Camp just a fortnight ago, it looked set to be another night of misery when Messi put the visitors in front after starting and finishing a wonderful counter attacking move:
Lionel Messi scores a nice counter attacking goal against Man City⚽ pic.twitter.com/I8ApLM3ldQ— World of MMA (@CM_fights) November 1, 2016
With group rivals Borussia Monchengladbach simultaneously leading against Celtic in Germany, had things remained the same City supporters would have woken up this morning staring down the barrel of an early Champions League exit.
Enter summer signing Gundogan who put the wheels of an unlikely comeback in motion with a cool finish in the 39th minute:
With the score finely balanced at 1-1 at half time, Guardiola faced an acid test of a team talk. Realising that a draw would not do much for City's qualification hopes, victory was sought as in a game that was making Europe sit up and take notice.
It looked liked what Guardiola said was paying dividends as after just six minutes of the second half De Bruyne did something that hadn't been done by anyone since 2009 by scoring a direct free kcik against Barcelona. The last man to do so was Juninho Pernambucano for Lyon seven years ago.
It was then time for classic Guardiola management as each and every one of his players ran themselves into the ground in order to maintain the lead.
The watching supporters, already in their element were sent into delirium when on 74 minutes Gundogan got his second goal of the night to make it 3-1:
A perfect way to wrap up an incredible night at the Ethiad. Afterwards, striker Sergio Aguero, whose selfless running all night saw him uncharacteristically left off the scoresheet, spoke of what Guardiola said to his team at half time:
"He said keep playing the same way, that we were fine, he spoke a bit about pressing and how to do it. We were saying we had to finish our attacks and score a goal, that was the most important thing, and that’s how it turned out, right?
"I don’t know if they were playing bad but we were good, and that’s the main point. We pressed the ball when Neymar and Leo (Messi), the most dangerous players, and then we tried to press in the centre so they don’t do what they usually do with a slight touch and Leo sending the ball to the far post. In the second half he did send the ball a couple of times to Suarez and Neymar, but well, we tried to stop him from doing that."
All that was left to do for City fans and players was rejoice as they came to terms with one of the most famous results in the club's history:
Sergio Aguero: "This was a night that the whole team enjoyed. We could feel the fans support and that was important for our confidence." pic.twitter.com/x1AEKBZl33— City Watch (@City_Watch) November 2, 2016
Scenes from the South Stand at full-time. pic.twitter.com/8a55l0whh7— City Watch (@City_Watch) November 1, 2016
Despite the such a famous victory, City remain as long as 12/1 with some bookmakers to lift the European Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next May.
Will you back against them?