For the opening period of this game Man City had to be patient and keep their shape as Barcelona retained possession for long periods with their passing game.
Gradually the home side came into the game and the bulk of the chances leading up to the break as their more direct style unsettled the Barca defence, in particular keeper Victor Valdes.
On 18 minutes Alvaro Negredo shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle, then City made their physical presence felt at a free kick resulting in a scramble on the goal line. Negredo tried a snap shot which was saved as Barcelona looked shaky.
The Swedish referee was not endearing himself to the City faithful as he made a series of bookings and penalised players for the slightest of touches.
City stared the second half in the ascendancy but this was to be a brief interlude before Barcelona took the lead on 53 minutes as the home side conceded a penalty resulting in a red card for Martin Demichelis.
Messi, who had been brought down, easily converted from the spot kick leaving the home side to play out the last 30 minutes with ten men.
The Catalans began to make their numerical advantage tell, but the City defence not only held firm but also created a couple of half chances on the break.
Even so Barca should have increased their advantage with two chances in as many minutes but both Xavi and Daniel Alves failed to hit the target.
David Silva almost levelled for City on 76 minutes but Valdes smothered his well hit shot, then just as it seemed The Citizens could limit Barca to one goal, Alves doubled the Spaniards advantage in the last minute to leave Manuel Pellegrini's side with a difficult task to turn this tie around in a fortnight.