FC Barcelona 2
Angel 24, 53
- Match reports
- 15 September 2011 21:25
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
City's compelling NextGen Series opener did not quite run to a fairytale finish in the end, despite the Hyde crowd willing them to pull off the result of their season against a tasty Barcelona side.
Just as with their senior counterparts, the Catalans had a player who made the difference. For Lionel Messi, read Miguel Angel, whose superb second-half strike turned out to be the winner.
He opened the scoring then trumped Harry Bunn's equaliser in emphatic style before going off in the closing minutes to a warm ovation from a crowd who suspected they had seen a star in the making.
But City's youngsters too deserved the applause they received when the final whistle blew. Whether Celtic, Hyde's next visitors next month, can match Barca's high standard remains to be seen.
Barcelona's reputation echoes throughout world football but the City lads showed they were not overawed at the notion of tackling the European champions' up-and-coming side.
The Catalans must have done their homework in the build-up but still looked a little taken aback when Alex Henshall cut in from the left and hammered a shot beyond Miguel Anton that hit a post.
The rebound was pounced upon by Bunn, but his effort was cleared off the line to prevent City from taking the lead after just six minutes
True, Jean Marie Dongou had put the ball in City's net a couple of minutes earlier only to have a goal ruled out by the linesman's flag, but there was trouble ahead for the young Blues.
Miguel Angel looked from the off as if he was going to be a handful, and with 24 minutes on the clock he unleashed a shot from the edge of the box that took a deflection on its way past Eirik Johansen.
It was a trifle unfair on City, who had matched Barca in the passing stakes as well as an attacking intent, but the home side didn't allow their resolve to be shaken and soon regrouped.
Johnansen had to save bravely at the feet of Sergi Samper to prevent the Catalans going further ahead before the Blues conjured a deserved equaliser with 39 minutes gone.
Joan Roman, late of Espanyol, set the break in motion and found Dennis Suarez before he fed Bunn, and the ever-reliable striker, denied once already, fired across the keeper into the far corner.
Going in level at half time was no less than City deserved, but Barca started the second half in determined mood and Angel fired in a quality left-footer that swereved away from Johansen to give him no chance.
With 53 minutes gone, that still left plenty of time for City to bounce back again, but the Catalans defended well and made sure their lead remained intact despite the Blues' efforts.
Indeed, Barca almost made the margin of victory wider in the dying minutes but defender Macky Bagnack's point-blank header at the far post was well blocked by goalkeeper Johansen.