Table of Contents
One Step from Glory
It’s been a long time to wait, but Manchester City will have the opportunity to win Europe’s most coveted trophy after defeating Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) 2-0 on Tuesday.
Riyad Mahrez was the hero again with a pair of goals to send the Sky Blues into the Champions League final for the first time in club history.
With a spot in the Champions League final on the line it was a tentative start for both sides though the field conditions were less than ideal.
Despite having no Kylian Mbappe, deemed unfit and on the bench, PSG had the first opportunity to reduce their deficit.
On the frosty Etihad pitch in the seventh minute, Neymar swung in a lovely cross on the left that struck Oleksandr Zinchenko.
With the Parisians screaming for a handball, the referee pointed to the spot.
Fortunately though, for the Citizens, VAR showed the ball struck the City fullback on the top of his shoulder, so the call was reversed.
A few minutes later Man City scored a valuable opening goal.
A brilliant clearance from Ederson down the wing found Zinchenko, who pulled it back towards the top of the box to Kevin De Bruyne.
Marquinhos did well to block the Belgians shot, but it took a good bounce to Riyad Mahrez, who drilled it low and beyond Kaylor Navas to put the Citizens in front.
PSG were unlucky not to score in the 17th minute.
Off a corner, the ball came back to Angel Di Maria, whose crossed picked out Marquinhos at the far post, but the Brazilian’s header beat Ederson but not the bar as City escaped.
A couple of minutes later, Ederson nearly gift-wrapped an equaliser for last season’s Champions League finalists.
The City keeper rolled it out to Bernardo Silva, who had a man on him and quickly lost posession.
With Ederson out of position at the top of his 18-yard box, Di Maria fired his effort wide.
De Bruyne had a chance to double the lead on the half-hour mark.
Ilkay Gundogan did well to square the ball off to the City playmaker who got away from Ander Herrera, but the Belgians effort sailed just over the bar.
Herrera came close to levelling the match six minutes later.
Di Maria thumped a cross into the feet of Neymar, who pulled it back towards the Spaniard on the edge of the box.
Herrera, however, got underneath his shot too much as it sailed over the bar.
Pep Guardiola’s men were able to get out of the first half, maintaining their one-goal advantage.
In half number two, the Sky Blues had an excellent opportunity to ice the game in the 53rd minute.
Kevin De Bruyne played in Phil Foden, who had acres of space down the left.
Navas, however, did well to come out and cut down the angle and make the save.
It wouldn’t have counted anyway as the flag was up for offside.
The PSG keeper denied Foden again a minute later, as the Englishman drilled a shot on goal that the Costa Rican parried away.
Just past the hour mark and City put the game to bed.
A lovely counter as Foden drilled a dangerous low ball into the PSG six-yard box as Riyad Mahrez was wide open on the end of it and put it home into the empty net to double the advantage.
The Parisians became unglued from there and were reduced to 10-men in the 69th minute.
As the ball went out of play, Fernandinho and Di Maria got into an altercation as the Argentine pushed away from the City skipper.
Di Maria didn’t like something about Fernandinho and stomped on the Brazilians’ foot.
The referee dismissed the PSG midfielder with a straight red card.
Things got heated after that with Marco Verratti and Zinchenko each receiving bookings in the 71st minute.
De Bruyne himself got booked leading to his substitution minutes later.
Foden continued to expose the PSG defence down the left, coming close in the 77th minute.
He got beyond Presnel Kimpembe, and from a tight angle, his left-footed drive smashed against the post.
At that point City were home and dry and held on for the victory.
Man of the Match
Playing the role of hero in leg one was so nice that Riyad Mahrez decided to do it twice.
The Algerian was stellar again, scoring two vital goals to destroy any kind of momentum the Parisians could have gotten.
Mahrez has played a critical role in City’s road to the final, scoring the decisive goal against Dortmund in the second leg of that quarter-final.
He was at it again today with a goal in both the first and second half to give his side some breathing space, allowing them to make the final.
Mahrez now has four goals in his last three games in this competition.
All by themselves
It’s the 11th victory for City this season in the Champions League, which puts them in a class all by themselves.
They are now the only English squad to win that many games in a single campaign in this competition.
Coming out on top
City manager Pep Guardiola continues to get the better of his Argentinian counterpart Mauricio Pochettino.
The Spaniard has now beaten him 12 times which is the most wins he has gotten against a single coach.
With their victory today, City become the ninth different side from England to reach the final of this competition.
More teams from England have made the final of this tournament than any other European nation.
Germany and Italy have each had six different teams reach the final.
Bumping a slump
This win ends a long drought for manager Pep Guardiola.
The Spaniard had lost four consecutive Champions League semi-finals since last winning this competition while at the helm of Barcelona.
It will be his first trip to the final since 2010-11.
It may be a long time coming for Guardiola, but the wait for City fans to see their side reach the final of a European competition has been much longer.
They last reached a final in 1969-70, capturing the Cup Winners’ Cup.
The 51-year gap between then and now is the longest wait to return to a final in a European competition for any club in Europe.
Following the match, City manager Pep Guardiola described what this result means to him.
“I am incredibly proud. My first thoughts always are for the players who didn’t play. They deserve today, everyone has made a contribution in this Champions League this season.
“We now have three weeks to prepare for the final.”
Man City have some time to prepare for the final of this competition, which is May 29 in Istanbul.
They will await the winner of tomorrow’s Chelsea-Real Madrid match, which is tied at one after the opening leg.
In the meantime, Guardiola and his team have the opportunity to clinch the Premier League title this weekend when they host Chelsea.
The kick-off on Saturday from the Etihad will be at 8:30 pm. (JSL).