Manchester City FC 1-2 FC Barcelona
Luis Suárez struck two goals in the opening half-hour but Sergio Agüero's reply and Lionel Messi's last-gasp penalty miss gave City hope.
Article top media content
• Luis Suárez strikes twice in the opening 30 minutes on his return to north-west England
• Sergio Agüero's sixth UEFA Champions League goal of the season throws City lifeline
• Gaël Clichy sent off 17 minutes from time after second yellow card
• Lionel Messi has added-time penalty saved and heads rebound wide
• The second leg is on 18 March, with the quarter-final draw two days later
Luis Suárez marked his return to the happy hunting grounds of north-west England with two goals in the first half-hour but Manchester City FC dramatically kept alive their quarter-final hopes.
FC Barcelona threatened to run away with this UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie after former Liverpool FC forward Suárez's devastating opening double salvo. Instead, City shored things up and Sergio Agüero's fine strike midway through the second half means they are not out of this yet. The English side, though, were equally indebted to Joe Hart's last-gasp penalty save from Lionel Messi as they finished with ten men.
City were certainly not backward about coming forwards, with Manuel Pellegrini opting for an attack-minded lineup. Fortune, they say, favours the brave. Not here though. With 16 minutes gone Suárez attempted to flick on a fairly innocuous ball from the right; it took a lucky bounce off Vincent Kompany, landed straight back at the striker's feet, and he lashed in the sort of deadly finish he became famous for down the road.
For a while Barcelona were rampant, thriving on the space afforded them in midfield. Martín Demichelis had already laid some of the ghosts of his dismissal in this fixture last season with a brilliant block to deny Messi after a piece of Neymar magic. There was nothing too special about the ball that unlocked the City defence on 26 minutes, though, as Suárez scampered through. Hart raced off his line to charge down the shot.
Four minutes later there was no stopping the Uruguayan. Messi did the damage as he danced through challenges on the edge of the box and fed Jordi Alba, who drilled across goal and Suárez was there to poke in at the near post. Still Barça came, Daniel Alves chipping a cross against the bar, yet either side of half-time City successfully pushed back the fluorescent yellow lines – initially, at least, they could not capitalise.
Samir Nasri had two goal-bound efforts rebuffed but the best chance fell to Edin Džeko as Kompany swallow-dived to flick a corner right into his path; the unmarked forward headed straight at Marc-André ter Stegen. Strike partner Agüero eventually showed him how it was done, lifting the ball in emphatically after David Silva had adroitly left it for him on the edge of the area.
Gaël Clichy's sending-off soon ended the possibility of a full revival, and when Pablo Zabaleta brought down Messi late on the Barcelona No10 could have dampened down even a partial one. Hart saved, however, and Messi nodded wide so City will travel to Barcelona in three weeks with hope.