BARCELONA, Sporting Alert – Watch Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and helped Barcelona hammered Manchester City 4-0 in a Champions League group game on Wednesday.
Both teams were reduced to 10 players, with Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who was signed by Guardiola from Barcelona this summer, sent off for handling outside the area.
Barca’s defender Jeremy Mathieu, who came on as a first-half substitute, was given his marching orders for two quick bookings.
Messi, who was named Man of the match after the game, netted in the 17, 61 and 69 minutes of the game, while Neymar, who after missing a penalty, added a fourth goal, minutes later in the contest.
“Perhaps the result is a bit unfair on them but if you commit grave errors and you have three forwards like ours against you, this is what happens,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.
The game saw Pep Guardiola making an unsuccessful return to his old club.
Guardiola was hoping to prevent Messi from getting into the game, but the Argentine international, who is back to full fitness, following a groin injury, was unplayable on the day.
His three goals on Wednesday took his tally to 10 goals in the last eight Champions League games.
“It’s difficult to play with Barcelona against 11 men. With 10, it was over,” said Guardiola.
“Mistakes happen. He is sad but he will learn a lot. As long as I’m a coach I’ll keep playing out from the goalkeeper.”
Guardiola shockingly left star striker Sergio Aguero on the bench and opted to use De Bruyne in the ‘false nine’ position, which didn’t quite work out.
The Spaniard defended his tactics and Bravo.
“There were two ways to approach the game,” Guardiola said. “We could have sat back and we could have won or lost doing that but I don’t know how to play that way and I don’t want to play that way.
“The more these Barca players have the ball, the more damage they do. It’s difficult to play against these players when you have 11. With 10, it was over.”