Soccer-City win shows Barca's strength, says Martino

By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA, March 12 (Reuters) - Barcelona showed their true quality by eliminating Manchester City from the Champions League, their coach Gerardo Martino said in response to questions about a poor run of form by his team.

While it was not a vintage performance from the Catalan side, they showed the right intensity and flashes of quality to beat City 2-1 and eliminate the Premier League team 4-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.

In a cagey encounter, it was Lionel Messi who made the breakthrough midway through the second half. City's Pablo Zabaleta was then given a second yellow card for dissent and there were late goals from City's Vincent Kompany and Dani Alves when the tie was all but decided.

"We came through with a 4-1 victory against a very strong side both as a group and individually. If we can play like that against a side like City then it means that we are able to take on any side," Martino told a news conference.

The Argentine was under pressure after Barca lost two of the last three La Liga games against Real Sociedad and Valladolid and they were also beaten in February by Valencia. Those losses cost them first place in the league and they trail Real Madrid by four points.

"It has not been an easy week but we have also played now against a team that was able to go a lot further (in the Champions League). We had to suffer in this game but we are playing in the Champions League," Martino said.

"We were not in control all the time it is true but that would have been the case with any side which plays against them and we were able to defend well and hold out. We qualified for the next round and the way that we did is a big boost for us for the future. Although the league is not now in our hands.

"Having beaten City we are prepared for whoever now in the next round." (Editing by Ed Osmond)