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Monkey off their back
Manchester City are through to the Champions League semi-finals thanks to a 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund to win their quarter-final tie against the Germans by a 4-2 aggregate score.
It’s a huge psychological boost for Pep Guardiola’s side, who had come up short at this stage of the competition in each of the previous three seasons.
Second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden canceled out the opening goal from Jude Bellingham which briefly put the Germans ahead in the quarter-final tie.
With Dortmund knowing they needed a win, Edin Terzic’s side was eager to get a goal early on as they carried much of the play in the opening 10 minutes.
However, City’s defence didn’t concede many quality scoring opportunities to Die Schwarzgelben in that time.
The first chance came to Dortmund in the 7th minute.
Mahmoud Dahoud picked up the ball 25 yards away from goal, thumping a long-range effort that Ederson handled.
In the 15th minute, the tie took a dramatic turn when Dortmund went ahead.
A nice long ball was played forward towards Erling Haaland as the Norwegian controlled it well before centring it at the top of the box.
With several City players caught out of position, the ball came to Jude Bellingham.
The Englishman curled his effort around Ruben Dias and into the top corner as Ederson got a touch to it but not enough.
Dortmund was close to going two ahead in the 18th minute as a corner was headed well by Manuel Akanji but straight at Ederson.
In need of a goal to remain in the competition, City pressed hard for an equaliser and was unlucky not to get one in the 26th minute.
Dortmund’s defence tried to be too cute in their box and nearly paid the price.
Kevin De Bruyne took possession in the Dortmund box and fired a shot labelled for the top corner.
The ball smashed against the crossbar, and Bernardo Silva headed the rebound wide.
In the 32nd minute, Dortmund’s goalscorer helped maintain his teams’ advantage.
Phil Foden did well to keep the ball in play crossing it back into the box where Riyad Mahrez got on the end of and fired a shot past Marwin Hitz.
Fortuntely for Dortmund however Bellingham was on the line and cleared it out for a corner.
After a tough first half playing several sloppy passes, Oleksandr Zinchenko nearly levelled the match in the 38th minute.
A De Bruyne corner was kept alive at the back post as John Stones flicked it onto the Ukrainian fullback, but his header was caught on the line by Hitz.
City found the goal they needed early in the second half.
An unconvincing headed clearance by Emre Can went straight down to his arm.
After a VAR check, the referee confirmed the penalty.
Riyad Mahrez stepped up to take his first penalty kick of the season.
The Algerian drilled a fantastic effort into the right-hand corner and beyond Hitz to put City back in front in the tie.
In need of a goal, Dortmund began to press to get a go-ahead strike.
In the 69th minute, an excellent free-kick delivery from Reus towards Mats Hummels saw the defender head it just over the bar.
De Bruyne came close to putting City in front on 74 minutes.
The City playmaker drove forward 40 yards before getting a beautiful shot away.
Hitz got his fingertips to it though and it deflected out.
City got some insurance a minute later.
A wonderful touch by Phil Foden inside the box set it up nicely for him to unleash a lethal strike that Hitz should have done better with.
City will take it as they took control of the match from there.
City saw out the final moment comfortably, coming away with their second consecutive 2-1 win in this tie.
Man of the Match
Man City’s had many vital contributors in each game this season, but none are likely as valuable in the clutch as Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian midfielder took control of the game after City found themselves behind.
He was unlucky not to equalise when his shot hit the bar in the first half.
He was then thwarted by a brilliant save in the second half.
To win top competitions like the Champions League, you need your best players to step up, and that’s what De Bruyne has done for the Sky Blues.
Tonight’s win not only ends City’s quarter-final drought but it also puts them in the final four.
It’s the furthest they’ve made it in this competition.
The only other time they’d made the semis was in 2016 under Manuel Pellegrini.
For Pep Guardiola, it’s his first trip to the Champions League semi-finals as a manager since 2010-11.
That’s also the last time he won the trophy as a manager with Barcelona.
Man City continues to get the better of German opposition, something they’ve done regularly of late in Europe.
The Sky Blues are now unbeaten in their last 13 matches against teams in the Bundesliga.
Tonight was also their third straight win in Germany.
Playing away from the Etihad doesn’t seem to bother Pep Guardiola’s side.
Tonight’s win stretches the team’s unbeaten run away from home to 16 in all competitions.
Making the difference
Phil Foden continues to make a massive difference for City in these big games.
Just like his teammate De Bruyne, the Englishman seems to come to life, especially in big games.
He scored the game-winning goal in both legs of this tie and also got the equaliser against Cheltenham.
He has six winning goals for City this season in all competitions.
If there’s anyone else more determined than De Bruyne not to lose, it’s Phil Foden.
The scary thing is that at 20 years of age, he still has plenty of room to grow.
After the match, City manager Pep Guardiola said he’s proud of how his team responded after a tough start.
“I’m incredibly happy for this club, the chairman, the players, the fans.
“We were brilliant except for the first 10 minutes.
“We’re going to try and play a good game [against PSG].
“It was a penalty that maybe could not have been given, but this is a competition that depends on these situations, but we played with personality, and we did it.”
City’s dream of a quadruple will face another stiff test this weekend against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Saturday’s kickoff from Wembley Stadium goes at 5:30 pm.
City’s next match in the Champions League will be against PSG later this month.
The opening leg happens on April 27 at the Parc des Princes with the second leg taking place at the Etihad on May 4. (JSL).