FC Barcelona 0
Petrov (27 mins)
- Match reports
- 19 August 2009 23:39
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
It might just have been a friendly, but City went to the home of the European champions and not only held their own but celebrated a famous Nou Camp victory thanks to Martin Petrov.
The Bulgarian winger has been wondering out loud about his chances of persuading Mark Hughes he is worth a regular place. A winning goal against Barcelona was not a bad nudge for the manager.
A staggering 94,123 turned up at this cathedral of dreams to pay homage to Catalonia's finest, but it was the City contingent, high up in the gods, who bellowed "Blue Moon" into the night.
And it was Richard Dunne who collected the first trophy of City's new era - a small step perhaps, but a huge boost to the team's confidence as they embark on this most demanding of seasons.
Dunne and his back four were magnificent, as they had to be to resist the best side in Europe, but it was Academy graduate Vladi Weiss who took the eye with a terrific performance on the wing.
Weiss did not look out of place in the company of champions, and nor did many of his City team-mates, which will have thrilled watching chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak as much as Hughes.
Barca fans turned out in cup-final numbers for the 44th El Trofeu Gamper with their season still more than a week away from the big kick-off and Barcelona's La Liga date with Sporting.
So the Spanish and European champions treated their massed supporters to a light show before the game, having lit up the Nou Camp regularly last season on the way to a spectacular Treble.
Their all-conquering players were introduced to the crowd - as if they needed it - and the roar in particular that greeted the heroes of the Champions League campaign was near-deafening.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola had a dozen on the bench, including Lionel Messi and new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but star skipper Puyol and Yaya Toure - Kolo's brother - both started.
Yaya did not stand on ceremony, steamrollering over Gareth Barry early on, apparently legally, to remind City that the friendly nature of these occasions only goes so far.
In fact Barca's Toure was at the heart of their early play and calling the shots as City, with only lone striker Carlos Tevez as an outlet in their 4-5-1 formation, often ceded possession.
Teenager Weiss, given his Premier League debut as a substitute against Bolton in May, got stuck into the biggest game of his young career with all the confidence manager Hughes expected.
But when the Blues stunned the home crowd by snatching what provd to be the winner after 27 minutes, it was the determined Petrov who delivered the calm slotted finish to Stevie Ireland's pass.
While the Spaniards looked to each other, wondering how the best defence in Europe had been so clinically breached, the Barca fans whistled and jeered as Petrov and 1,000 Blues celebrated.
Shay Given had to make a couple of smart saves, but the biggest home cheer of the first half came when the small army of Barca substitutes began to warm up along the touchline.
Guardiola was clearly unimpressed so far, but the Spanish champions were fortunate not to go in at the interval trailing by two as Barry headed Petrov's raking free kick just past the post.
Barcelona came back out with a handful of replacements, Messi and Ibrahimovic included, to set about the City defence, while Hughes was content to send on Tal Ben Haim for Kolo Toure.
Messi, considered in many quarters to be the best player in the world, eluded former Espanyol defender Pablo Zabaleta and drifted in a shot that only just cleared the far angle of Given's goal.
It was clear that Barca were ready to turn the screw on the Blues rearguard, but with Ben Haim stepping in seamlessly alongside Dunne, City looked ready to face Europe's most demanding test.
But for all the "oohs" and "aahs" as the Barcelona football began to surge and flow in an alarmingly familiar manner, Given's goal was protected by a hard-working and solid back four.
Barca did contrive an outstanding chance with City under the cosh but substitute Jonathan saw his shot cannon back off the bar, then Given saved with his legs to frustrate Ibrahimovic.
Weiss, showing maturity beyond his years, nicked the ball off Thiago and crafted a teasing run that could only end in a free kick that bought valuable respite before Craig Bellamy hit a dipper over the bar.
Messi's wiles, Ibrahimovic's firepower ... nothing was quite able to penetrate the thin Blue line as the minutes ticked away and the Nou Camp became numbingly resigned to the unfamiliar feel of defeat.
Bellamy, incredibly, had a chance to seal City's victory in the last few seconds of the four minutes time added on, but he shot just wide after Ireland had instigated the breakway.