Manchester City players and staff searched for the silver lining after the club’s 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second-leg dumped the Premier League giant out of its second major competition in less than a week. While City lost the two-game series with Spanish champion Barca, 4-1, it also crashed out of the FA Cup last Saturday following a 2-1 loss to last year's winner Wigan Athletic. Having won the English League Cup earlier this month, the Premier League is now the only title the club could still win this season.
"If anything [the UCL loss] should give us motivation," captain Vincent Kompany said following Wednesday’s elimination. "The way we played against Wigan, the performance tonight was completely different. Only the winners get remembered, but it's only the third year ever for Manchester City in the Champions League. I'm looking at this and I don't see why next year we should fear anyone."
Assistant coach Ruben Cousillas, who replaced suspended manager Manuel Pellegrini on the City bench, noted: "Our project is just starting. We have just won our first silverware [the League Cup]. Until last weekend, we were the only team chasing four trophies. We are out of two, but still very much alive in the Premier League. The team have been through some low times, but we are alive and we will fight for the title."
In the second half, following Lionel Messi’s opener for Barca, referee Stephane Lannoy, who had ignored a penalty area foul on the other end, missed a clear penalty decision when Gerard Pique’s challenge from behind brought down substitute Edin Dzeko, who was preparing to shoot, in the box. As City defender Pablo Zabaleta protested furiously, Lannoy issued him a second yellow card, thus reducing City to 10 men and effectively killing the contest. After the game, Zabaleta described Lannoy’s decision as “shocking.”