Man City on brink of Women’s Champions League exit after heavy loss to Barcaon March 24, 2021 at 2:25 pm

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Manchester City are on the brink of exiting the Women’s Champions League at the quarter-final stage after defeat by Barcelona.

Barcelona celebrate

Asisat Oshoala opened the scoring in the 35th minute before Barca’s Mariona Caldentey netted a second-half penalty after Demi Stokes tripped Oshoala.

City’s Chloe Kelly missed a golden opportunity to halve the deficit seeing her 55th-minute penalty saved.

Jenni Hermoso tapped in a third late on after Alexia Putellas struck the post.

Gareth Taylor’s side must score at least three goals to avoid elimination in next Wednesday’s home second leg (16:00 BST) at Academy Stadium in Manchester.

“I don’t think it’s a tough task,” Taylor told BBC Sport. “I think we can turn it around. It’s within our capabilities.

“The way this team has performed this season and the goals we have scored, I think we can do it, no problem at all.”

City suffer without skipper Houghton

With England centre-back Steph Houghton out with an Achilles injury, City struggled defensively as goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck kept the English side in the tie in the first half.

Roebuck was at her best to deny Oshoala when through on goal before her opener and pulled off excellent diving saves to deny Aitana Bonmati and Putellas just before the break.

Barcelona were good value for their first-half lead through Oshoala’s first-time strike, but City did create a number of chances on the counter-attack.

Chloe Kelly penalty

Caroline Weir placed a tame effort straight at Barca keeper Sandra Panos and Kelly and Ellen White both failed to find the target from promising positions with the tie still goalless.

City boss Taylor will be left wondering what could have been had Kelly scored a crucial away goal to make it 2-1 after Lauren Hemp was brought down in the area.

Brilliant Barca show tactical nous

Spanish champions Barcelona have won all 20 of their league fixtures this term, scoring 99 goals and conceding just three.

And the 2019 Champions League runners-up showed their knockout football experience, consistently forcing errors from City’s defenders with a devastating high press.

Caldentey’s spot-kick and Hermoso’s late goal will make Barcelona strong favourites to reach the semi-finals for a fourth time in five seasons.

A City turnaround seems an unlikely task given Barcelona have not conceded three or more goals in a game since their 4-1 loss to Lyon in the 2019 Champions League final.

‘We have to be better in both boxes’

Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor: “I think there were chances. There is no doubting they edged it on chances created but we certainly had a number of good opportunities.

“We have normally been sticking those away and I think it could have changed the complexion of the result but, for me, it’s still half-time and we are capable of scoring that amount of goals to get us through. That’s what we are working on towards next week’s game.”

On the Chloe Kelly penalty miss: “I think scoring at any time would have changed the complexion because away goals are really important.

“That was a good opportunity. Chloe [Kelly] has done great for us this season, she has scored penalties for us and will do in the future.

“It’s not just looking at the penalty but it’s looking at the good opportunities we had and to come away without scoring, given the form we have been in, is disappointing.

“But I want to make sure we don’t give away as many opportunities as we did in the game today. Barcelona are a very good team but we have to be better in both boxes.”

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