In a repeat of last season's round of 16 first leg at the Etihad, Barcelona were too slick for the hosts in a mesmerising opening period with Uruguay forward Suarez firing them in front in the 16th minute and doubling the lead after half an hour.

Sergio Aguero rewarded City for a vastly improved second half showing with a clinical strike 20 minutes from time.

But with City down to 10 men after Gael Clichy's red card for a second booking, the majestic Messi had the chance to restore Barcelona's two-goal lead but his penalty was saved by Joe Hart and the Argentine headed the rebound wide.

"We are very happy with the result and even if it was 3-1 the tie would still be open," Barca coach Luis Enrique said.

City midfielder Samir Nasri said in the build-up that while Messi played football from a different galaxy, the rest of Barca's squad shared the same planet as City's.

It did not look like it in a horribly one-sided first half in which Barcelona's entire ensemble were light years ahead in speed and movement.

Messi, rejuvenated since his reported spat with manager Luis Enrique at the start of the year, was at the heart of Barca's rapier thrusts.

SUAREZ SPELL

But it was Suarez, whose goals, bites and misplaced words made his time at Liverpool nothing if not compelling, who returned to cast his spell over English football.

It was his brace for Uruguay in June that all but banished England from the World Cup and this time his predatory instincts left City staring at another early exit from Europe.

In the 16th minute Messi's ball in hit City skipper Vincent Kompany on the back and dropped at the feet of Suarez to drill a low shot past the stranded Hart.

The England keeper must be sick of the sight of Suarez and he was beaten again after 30 minutes when Messi mesmerised countryman Pablo Zabaleta and dinked a pass to Jordi Alba whose low cross was touched in by the sliding Uruguayan.

Dani Alvez clipped the crossbar before the halftime whistle offered stunned City a few minutes to clear their heads.

However, Barca were caught snoozing at the start of the second half and Javier Mascherano had to make a superb tackle to deny Nasri before unmarked City striker Edin Dzeko headed straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

City's endeavour was rewarded when Aguero, whose hat-trick against Bayern Munich in the group stage helped City mount a great escape into the last 16, clipped a shot past ter Stegen after brilliant work from David Silva.

With Clichy off for a second booking, Messi earned a last-gasp penalty when he was bundled over by Zabaleta but his effort was saved by Hart and the Argentine then missed an open goal with a diving header from the rebound to leave City alive.

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