Barcelona coach Luis Enrique not concerned by Lionel Messi's penalty miss
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has said that he was very happy with the 2-1 win over Manchester City in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg at the Etihad stadium on Tuesday. He also added that he is not concerned with Lionel Messi’s late penalty miss which could have given the Catalans an even bigger advantage.
Barca had complete control of the first half with Luis Suarez’s brace giving them a 2-0 lead. City tried to come back into the game after the break and pulled one back through Sergio Aguero.
City were reduced to ten men after Gael Clichy was sent off for two yellow cards. Messi could have added to the English club’s woes when he won a penalty during added time after being fouled by his Argentine team-mate Pablo Zabaleta.
However, Messi saw his penalty saved by Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal. The Argentina captain couldn’t take advantage of the rebound either, as he headed wide of the gaping goal.
When asked about the miss, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique refused to be drawn into any potential controversies. He said, “This sport is like this, difficult against a great opponent. What you must do is look at how the players did today. It is still all open ahead of the second game. This sport is like this, marvellous, anything can happen, but we must enjoy what the players did today.”
“We know penalties can be missed in this game of ours, only those brave enough to take them can miss, and the next to take one will be Lionel Messi. Messi was at a very high-level today, just like the whole team, helping us so much in every element of the attack, and also in transitions, as today we needed to defend as a block.”
Luis Enrique praises Suarez; refuses to read too much into Dani Alves’ antics
On whether he was disappointed at not taking a greater lead into the second leg at the Camp Nou on March 18, Luis Enrique said, “We have to be happy as we have won away at a great team. We would have taken this before the match, it is a win. It is a deserved victory. We need to be proud of victories like this.”
“We were great in the first half, superior in the centre of the park, able to create dangerous situations. In the second half, the opponent pressed us and had chances, especially at set-pieces. We knew they would come at us. They have quality. We had to suffer a little bit but the result was more than fair.”
Luis Suarez’s form for Barcelona after his move to Spain has attracted a lot of criticism. Luis Enrique praised the Uruguayan’s performance on the night saying that he always had confidence in his No.9.
He said, “I have always seen Luis Suarez with the same confidence, whether he scores or not. He is a top level player. That is why we signed him, and he is responding to the expectations created.”
Luis Enrique also refused to read too much into right-back Dani Alves kicking a line of water bottles in apparent frustration after being substituted.
He said, "[Alves] had received bang in the challenge from Clichy, and we had decided to take off players who were booked so to not have a player less. Players show their state of mind, depending on how their game goes. You'd have to ask him.”