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So many star performances at Camp Nou

UEFA.com match reporter Graham Hunter looks back at FC Barcelona's elimination of Manchester City FC, in which two goalkeepers challenged Lionel Messi for plaudits.

Barcelona 1-0 Manchester City: the story in photos ©Getty Images

There is just no doubting that we all witnessed a match of excelsior quality at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Think of it like this. FC Barcelona's Marc-André ter Stegen is a 22-year-old goalkeeper playing only his eighth UEFA Champions League match and he saves a penalty. That happens with just over 13 minutes left and had Sergio Agüero scored, Manchester City FC would have had time and opportunity to add the single strike which would have turned this round of 16 tie on its head, gifting us another 30 minutes of the highest-calibre European football.

But the young German leaps to his right, parries decisively and is embraced by Gerard Piqué, the centre-back deeply grateful that his foul has not helped Barça potentially lose a match they have had under control for 167 minutes. A career-defining moment.

Yet Ter Stegen's heroics earned him so very little of the worldwide media coverage either on the night or Thursday morning. That is a marker of just how stunning the work of Lionel Messi and Joe Hart was – the former determined to completely 'own' the match, the latter equally determined to prevent him doing so – in the Spanish Liga side's 1-0 win.

Watch: Messi lauds Hart

However, just as there was another story behind the dazzling work of the tall Englishman and the diminutive Argentinian, I am certain that Luis Enrique, for one, will have seen other details. 'Lucho' as he is known around the Camp Nou, will want to assimilate whether his team producing such a plethora of goal opportunities, of so many different kinds, yet only scoring once is a 'blip' or something to concern him.

One of the things which has always defined Luis Suárez and Neymar is the naturalness of their ability to finish in tight situations. Enormous natural technique, constant practice, big-game mentality and a cold mind when the pressure is high.

Yet both of them had time and space to score against City, on a couple of occasions, but did not do so. The skill of management is judging whether these are the kind of filigree details to address – or to leave well alone because they are nothing more than anecdotal.

Hart: Barcelona were too good

Another thing which I would guess will occur to the Barcelona coach, and reassure him, is that he possesses in this squad not only several UEFA Champions League winners who know the magic of the 'lift' moment when the 'cup with the big ears' is finally won, but two who have already told UEFA.com this season that they have joined Barça specifically to savour that for the first time.

Suárez is one, but Wednesday's scorer, Ivan Rakitić, is another. The former Sevilla FC midfielder called winning the UEFA Europa League last season in Turin his proudest moment in football, but admitted that all it served to do was motivate him to add that trophy's bigger brother. Not only did he feel that the Camp Nou possessed players who would help him do so but that he had the skill, vision, stamina, determination and experience to help them do so.

His exquisite goal – which caused the watching Josep Guardiola to gasp in admiration – was evidence that Barça have a footballer not only capable of doing special things but utterly determined that he and his team will be in Berlin in June. Precisely the kind of 'intangible' extra that any coach craves to discover in his squad. Not only talent, but hunger.