Champions League: Barcelona turns up the style to dump Manchester City

Manchester City's Joe Hart saves from Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Barcelona 1 - 0 Manchester City

It was thanks to Hart's heroics that Barcelona could manage only a 1-0 win at the Nou Camp.

Ivan Rakitic scored the only goal of another one-sided encounter between the two sides, completing a 3-1 aggregate win to secure the Catalan giants' place in the quarter-finals.

City did show some spirit in the second half, and could have pulled one back when Sergio Aguero had a penalty saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but in truth the scoreline flattered them.

Barcelona were in a different league to the English champions and Messi was simply outstanding.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi(L) vies with Manchester City's Serbian defender Aleksandar Kolarov (R) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match in Barcelona. PHOTO: AFP

One of the enduring images from the game will be his first-half nutmeg on James Milner, who was bamboozled and left on the turf by the Argentinian's brilliance.

It said much for City's night that their man of the match was comfortably Hart, who made a strong of brilliant saves in the second half to limit the damage.

The loss will leave City manager Manuel Pellegrini fighting for his future but even the greatest coaches might have struggled against Barcelona in this mood.

CIty's defeat meant the end of English involvement in the Champions League, after Arsenal and Chelsea's defeats at the same last-16 stage and Liverpool's elimination after the group round.

Pellegrini changed tactics, deploying Aguero as a lone striker, but it was to little avail.

After being well beaten in the first leg, it always seemed likely City would follow all their Premier League rivals out of the competition.

And so it proved as Barcelona set about them from the outset, looking in ominous form as Dani Alves forced a Vincent Kompany error and Neymar rolled a shot against the post.

Messi at his best

Barcelona were relentless with Messi at his most ingenious best, continually wrong-footing City with masterful control and movement.

Messi combined brilliantly with Andres Iniesta in the box but Hart came to City's rescue with a low save from the Argentinian.

City could not keep pace with the Primera Division leaders and four of their players - Fernandinho, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva and Samir Nasri - were booked inside the first 36 minutes. Nasri was actually lucky not to see red for hacking at the ankles of Neymar.

But by then City were already a goal down after Messi picked out Rakitic in space in the box with a brilliant cross.

Rakitic controlled superbly on his chest and reacted quickly to lob the advancing Hart.

City's torture continued as Messi, who had earlier been crudely hacked down on the touchline by Kolarov, reacted with great dexterity as Milner attempted to close him down out wide.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero looks dejected. PHOTO: Action Images via Reuters/ Carl Recine 

Messi simply flicked the ball back inside, nutmegging the England international and dumping him on his backside. Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, watching in the stands, put his head in his hands in disbelief.

Barcelona almost had a second goal before the break as Luis Suarez, scorer of two in the first leg, broke clear and beat the advancing Hart only for his shot to bounce off the far post.

The one-way traffic continued as Hart saved from Iniesta, Rakitic and Jordi Alba in the opening minutes of the second half.

Pellegrini attempted to change shape, with Jesus Navas having replaced the ineffective Nasri at the interval and by pushing Toure forward, but Barcelona were not greatly troubled despite an increase in City possession.

One good opportunity did open up when Navas got to the byline but there was no-one on hand to turn in his cross.

Barcelona still had the menace to kill the game at any moment and Suarez lashed a shot into the side-netting before Messi skipped a challenge on a lightning counter-attack but was forced wide.

Not City's night

Alba thought he had scored a second when he snaffled a rebound after Hart blocked a Neymar shot but offside was given.

Hart denied Neymar again on the hour and City were given a potential lifeline moments later as they broke up to the other end and Aguero fell as Gerard Pique challenged.

A penalty was awarded but Aguero could not take advantage as Ter Stegen saved to his right.

It was not going to be City's night but Hart could still hold his head high, saving again from Suarez before the former Liverpool star hit the bar.

Hart saved brilliantly again from Messi in the last minute and Neymar was also frustrated by him in injury time. - Sporting Life

Hewitt set to retire after 2016 Australian Open

The curtain is set to come down on Lleyton Hewitt’s career.

But the 34-year-old Australian tennis star, who shot to fame by winning two Grand Slam titles (US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002), is not dreading it.

Indeed, he is relishing his next role as mentor to his younger countrymen.

He told Sazali Abdul Aziz that he will "pretty much stop after the Australian Open (in January) next year" and then take on his role as Australia's Davis Cup captain.

Read the full report in our print edition on March 19.

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Not his pet event, but Zheng Wen sets new national mark in 100m free

WINNING START: Quah Zheng Wen (centre) in action in the men's 100m free final at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.

Freestyle sprint events have never been high on the priority list for Quah Zheng Wen, who holds all three backstroke national records, as well as the 400m individual medley mark.

The 18-year-old simply put his head down and went for it in the 100m freestyle in the morning heats of the Singapura Finance Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships (Senior) at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Wednesday, and achieved history, touching home with a time of 49.89sec to become the first Singapore man to go under 50 seconds in the event.

After winning the evening’s final in 50.19, Zheng Wen relived his morning feat, when he said: “It was a pretty intense line-up because essentially all the best swimmers were there."

Read the full report in our print edition on March 19.

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Van der Garde 
exits Sauber

Bitter Dutchman says his Formula 1 dream is over

"I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula 1 is probably over." - Giedo van der Garde (above)
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De Villiers (right) moves on to the semis, while Sangakarra (left) leaves one-day cricket.
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Quek tied for second in Selangor

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A relay race, with a twist

ALL SET: (Back row, from left) Spectrum Worldwide CEO Chris Robb and Asics Asia general manager Yogesh Gandhi with local runners (bottom row, from left) Ravi Kumar, Lance Tan and Philip Ramachandran. 

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Hewitt: Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time

Aussie star Hewitt also believes Djokovic and Murray will dominate men's game

Lleyton Hewitt (above) on why he rate Roger Federer (inset) as the “greatest player”.
People will ask how he can be the greatest when he has a losing head-to-head record with another guy who’s playing in his generation (Rafael Nadal). But it’s a tough one to weigh up, and he (Federer) has still won the most Grand Slams. — Lleyton Hewitt on why he rate Roger Federer (above) as the “greatest player”
"On clay, it’s very hard seeing anyone beating him over five sets. " - On Rafael Nadal(above)
"Their movement on the court is amazing. " - On Novak Djokovic (above) and Andy Murray

The British love an honourable defeat.

It is a simple question, but one that provokes much thought, endless debate and loads of arguments, which often times even gets angry.

And it is a question that can be asked in any sport.

Who is the greatest?

When The New Paper posed that question to Lleyton Hewitt, the Australian tennis star and two-time Grand Slam winner (Wimbledon in 2001 and the US Open in 2002) seemed uncomfortable picking a name.

Put Hewitt on the spot, though, and he will stick his neck out.

Although Roger Federer has a losing head-to-head record with Rafael Nadal, the Swiss ace gets Hewitt’s vote because he has won more Grand Slams.

Read the full report in our print edition on March 19.

Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at

No German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, says Seiler

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