Barcelona: Lionel Messi hailed under-fire Barcelona as back to their best as they saw off Manchester City to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and keep alive their hopes of the treble.
Barcelona teammates celebrate after Lionel Messi scores the opening goal against Man City on Wednesday. Pic/AFP
Critics had rounded on Barca and their coach Gerardo Martino after the reigning champions suffered three defeats in six Primera Division matches, with the latest — a shock 1-0 reverse at lowly Real Valladolid on Saturday — seeing them fall four points behind arch rivals Real Madrid in the title race.
City's hopes crushed
That loss came four days before Barca's Champions League last-16 second leg against City and would have given the English side increased hope they might be able to overturn their 2-0 deficit from the home leg.
However, there would be no fairytale recovery from City as Barca earned a 2-1 win on the night to progress through to the last eight 4-1 on aggregate.
And Messi, who was on the scoresheet along with Dani Alves — the same scorers as in the first leg, believes his side showed just what they are made of in Wednesday's match.
He said: "We were coming off two very serious setbacks away from home (at Real Sociedad and Valladolid), but more so for the performances than for the results. Here we've returned to be the Barcelona that we want, that the fans expect."