City’s complete performance against PSG leaves them as favourites to win the Champions League

Manchester City will start as favourites in their first ever Champions League final, after Pep Guardiola’s side put in a complete performance against a PSG side that simply fell apart

  • Manchester City put on another superb display against last season’s finalists
  • Two goals from Riyad Mahrez on the night gave them a 4-1 aggregate victory
  • Phil Foden’s excellent performance was reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne 
  • Their defensive stability showed that they are the complete package
  • Whoever they face in the final on the 29th May, they will start as the favourites 

It is the goals that they will remember. Three for Riyad Mahrez over the course of the tie. One for Kevin De Bruyne that started to turn things in Manchester City’s favour in Paris a week earlier.

But this was a victory over two games that was built on something more than those moments.

Facing a really dangerous opponent, Pep Guardiola’s team had to be as disciplined and resilient as perhaps they have ever been.

Riyad Mahrez (left) and Kevin de Bruyne (right) scored four goals between them in the two legs

And one incident early in the second half summed up the collective effort of excellence as well as anything.

As PSG’s Brazilian Neymar ran across the top of the City penalty area, danger threatened. There was space, a clear opening. Had the French champions scored at that point the tie would have been open again.

But Neymar did not score. His shot did not even reach City goalkeeper Ederson. And that was because young City full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko blocked it brilliantly. Had he not done so, Ederson still would not have been required as John Stones was right behind his team-mate ready to do the same.

As the ball disappeared behind for a corner, Stones and Zinchencko celebrated like goal scorers. It was that kind of night for Mauricio Pochettino’s team at the Etihad Stadium. If one City player didn’t get you then another one would.

The whole of City’s back four was magnificent here. Kyle Walker continues to look like a player reborn. The Portuguese centre half Ruben Dias appeared to block at least one shot with his face.

All this from a defensive unit that Guardiola had appeared to suggest was technically limited in the run up to the first game.

Phil Foden was impressive again, with the young midfielder being likened to Paul Gascoigne

Phil Foden was impressive again, with the young midfielder being likened to Paul Gascoigne

This was a night that grew as ugly as the weather as the game approached its latter stages. That was a shame. But by then City’s work had been done. For the second game running between the teams, PSG fell apart in the second half and that was all due to the way City contained and then beat them.

The contrast with the first half in Paris could not have been greater. With mounds of hail sitting beside the pitch following some strange Manchester weather, City were the team that seemed to adapt better to the conditions as well as the enormity of the occasion.

With PSG’s need so great, we expected some fire and brimstone. In their own stadium six days earlier, they threatened to swamp City in the first 45 minutes. Neymar, Angel di Maria and Kylian Mbappe ran hot for half an hour in France and there was always the danger they may find a dangerous groove here.

Most certainly, the fact Mbappe began the night on the bench affected them. The young French forward is so quick and direct that so much of what Pochettino’s team do normally flows from that. He creates space, draws players towards him, frightens people and the result is normally pockets of green for the likes of Neymar to work in behind him.

It was another tough evening for Neymar, who was kept at bay throughout the two legs

It was another tough evening for Neymar, who was kept at bay throughout the two legs

Robbed of that here, PSG looked a little light early on. They enjoyed possession but it was different to the kind of ball they had in Paris. Here, they were largely contained. They were, if anything, a little predictable and when they lost the ball City were so quick to counter that goals for the home team seemed inevitable.

Before City did lead, only a refereeing error threatened to derail them. How Bjorn Kuipers thought the ball had been handled by Oleksandr Zinchenko in the seventh minute perhaps only he will know. Striking the young full-back on the shoulder, it was nowhere near his arm or hand. Had it not been for a VAR intervention — perhaps the most obvious of the season — City could have been behind on the night. How unjust that would have been.

Beyond that, it was City who carried the threat. Riyad Mahrez’s eleventh minute goal owed as much to goalkeeper Ederson as anything. The Brazilian’s raking pass to set Zinchenko down the left was superb.

Ruben Dias (left) and John Stones (right) have been excellent at the back for City all season

Ruben Dias (left) and John Stones (right) have been excellent at the back for City all season

Elsewhere, it was another night of influence for Phil Foden. City’s young midfielder has never played better football than he has in recent weeks. Having developed the speed now to ease away from people, he is close to unstoppable when he is in the mood. One touch and dash away from two opponents in centre field midway through the first half was reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne and the longer this season goes on the more impossible it is to imagine he will not be in Gareth Southgate’s starting eleven for the European Championships next month.

The same can be said for John Stones who was imperious at the heart of City’s defence.

The City defender must have begun this season wondering where his next good game was coming from. Now he will play in a Champions League final for the first time.

City were impressive in Paris last week but this was better. This was a complete performance and whoever they face in Istanbul’s final they will start as favourites.

Kevin de Bruyne was substituted off in the 82nd minute after another impressive display

Kevin de Bruyne was substituted off in the 82nd minute after another impressive display

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Man City v PSG: Ederson hailed by fans after his lofted pass helped set up Riyad Mahrez’s opener

Ederson is hailed as ‘the best ball-playing goalkeeper in the world’ after his superb lofted pass helped set up Man City’s opener in Champions League semi-final vs PSG with fans calling the Brazilian a ‘cheat code’

  • Ederson played a huge role in Man City’s opening goal vs PSG on Tuesday 
  • Brazilian keeper’s superb lofted pass set them on course for Mahrez’s opener 
  • Fans were left gushing about the City No.1’s playmaking ability on social media
  • Some joked he would start in Arsenal’s midfield and one called him a cheat code 

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson caused more than a few jaws to drop after his sensational long-range pass helped set up Riyad Mahrez’s opener in their Champions League semi-final against PSG.

The Brazilian is known for his ability with the ball and being comfortable spraying passes around for Pep Guardiola’s possession-focused team, but his beautiful pinged ball forward left social media in a frenzy as he superbly picked out Alesksandr Zinchenko on the left flank.

The Ukranian left-back found Kevin de Bruyne in the centre, whose shot was blocked and rebounded to Mahrez, who was left with a golden opportunity to slot home and put City 3-1 up on aggregate in their crucial European clash. 

Ederson has been lauded on social media after his superb pass to set up City’s goal vs PSG

The Brazilian displayed incredible technical ability to pick out Zinchenko in the build up to Riyad Mahrez's opener in the Champions League semi-final second leg

The Brazilian displayed incredible technical ability to pick out Zinchenko in the build up to Riyad Mahrez’s opener in the Champions League semi-final second leg

It wasn’t long before Ederson earned a flood of plaudits from supporters online, with one joking he was good enough to start in Arsenal’s struggling midfield. 

‘If Ederson was at Arsenal he would be playing in centre-mid,’ wrote one fan, accompanied by crying emojis.

Another hailed his ability with the ball, writing: ‘Ederson, at least in my lifetime, is the most technically proficient goalkeeper I’ve seen. The amount of value he brings with that is incredible too.’

The 27-year-old was also labelled a ‘cheat code’ with a user highlighting the huge distance the ball travelled to reach Zinchenko, and another said he was ‘the 6th best playmaker in the Premier League and he’s a goalkeeper’.

The Brazilian is known for being exceptional with the ball but his pass blew supporters away

The Brazilian is known for being exceptional with the ball but his pass blew supporters away

One said he was ‘the best playmaking goalkeeper in the world’, and urged fellow fans to ‘put some respect on his name’.

Ederson has comfortably been one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League since joining from Benfica in 2017 – helping the club win two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four Carabao Cups.

He’s played 186 games in total having been recruited to become one of the key components in Guardiola’s passing machine at the Etihad having grown frustrated with the error-prone Claudio Bravo. 

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Champions League historic stats show Man City are huge favourites against PSG after 2-1 win

Since 1955, the away side has won the first leg of a knockout tie in the European Cup/Champions League on 319 occasions. 

Just eight times has that team subsequently failed to progress from the tie.

SAARBRUCKEN vs AC Milan – European Cup first round, November 1955

First leg: AC Milan 3 Saarbrucken 4

Second leg: Saarbrucken 1 AC Milan 4

Aggregate: 7-5 to AC Milan 

BENFICA  vs Ajax – European Cup quarter-final, February 1969

First leg: Ajax 1 Benfica 3

Second leg: Benfica 1 Ajax 3

Tie-breaker in Paris: Ajax 3 Benfica 0

DYNAMO BERLIN vs Nottingham Forest – European Cup quarter-final, March 1980

First leg: Nottingham Forest 0 Dynamo Berlin 1

Second leg: Dynamo Berlin 1 Nottingham Forest 3

Aggregate: 3-2 to Nottingham Forest 

PANATHINAIKOS vs Ajax – Champions League semi-final, April 1996

First leg: Ajax 0 Panathinaikos 1

Second leg: Panathinaikos 0 Ajax 3

Aggregate: 3-1 to Ajax 

BAYERN MUNICH vs Inter Milan – Champions League last-16, February 2011

First leg: Inter Milan 0 Bayern Munich 1

Second leg: Bayern Munich 2 Inter Milan 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Inter won on away goals 

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs Manchester United – Champions League last-16, February 2019

First leg: Manchester United 0 Paris Saint-Germain 2

Second leg: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Man United won on away goals 

REAL MADRID vs Ajax – Champions League last-16, February 2019

First leg: Ajax 1 Real Madrid 2

Second leg: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4

Aggregate: 5-3 to Ajax

AJAX vs Tottenham Hotspur – Champions League semi-final, April 2019

First leg: Tottenham 0 Ajax 1

Second leg: Ajax 2 Tottenham 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Tottenham won on away goals 

Arsene Wenger slams ’emotional and stupid’ PSG after defeat to Manchester City in Champions League

PSG ‘mentally COLLAPSED’ after conceding equaliser against Manchester City, blasts Arsene Wenger in scathing assessment of Mauricio Pochettino’s side: ‘They became emotional and aggressive in a STUPID way’

  • Marquinhos put home side ahead but De Bruyne levelled in the second-half
  • Mahrez’s free kick then went through the wall to give Manchester City a 2-1 lead 
  • PSG midfielder Gueye was then sent off for an ugly challenge on Gundogan

Arsene Wenger slammed ’emotional and stupid’ Paris Saint-Germain after their defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League.

Marquinhos put the home side ahead with a first-half header but Manchester City improved after the break and levelled through Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, which drifted beyond goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Riyad Mahrez’s free kick went through the wall to give Manchester City a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg of their semi-final tie next week. 

Arsene Wenger was left deeply unimpressed by PSG’s second half against Manchester City

PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a foul on Ilkay Gundogan

PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a foul on Ilkay Gundogan

PSG’s hopes suffered a further blow when Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for an ugly late challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

And Wenger believes PSG’s second-half collapse was due to their poor discipline. 

Speaking about Mahrez’s free-kick, Wenger told beIN SPORT: ‘From the defenders turning their back, it’s between Paredes and Kimpembe. Why do you lie a guy on the ground if the guys in the wall open the wall?’  

‘I personally believe that the second goal is not acceptable for that level. It’s not the first time we see players turning their back and City took advantage of that.

‘But I must say in the second half PSG were protective and not progressive any more. Is it because they were not physically capable? 

‘After the 1-1, they collapsed completely. They become emotional and aggressive in a stupid way.’ 

Wenger believes a tumultuous domestic campaign, where PSG are currently second in the standings and a point behind Lille, has impacted the confidence of Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Riyad Mahrez's free kick went through the wall to give Manchester City a 2-1 lead

Riyad Mahrez’s free kick went through the wall to give Manchester City a 2-1 lead

PSG lost their discipline as Manchester City took control of the Champions League semi-final

PSG lost their discipline as Manchester City took control of the Champions League semi-final

‘What was very interesting tonight is that you could see that when it was 1-1, PSG mentally collapsed,’ Wenger added.

‘This is as well the consequence of this team losing eight games in the league. This has an impact in this kind of situation. 

‘When it’s 1-1 the team knows they have lost many games, they carry that. It’s not like the season before when they were unbeatable in the league. 

‘You could see the confidence dropped considerably and the mental impact when Man City equalised, for the semi-final of a Champions League, was too big.’

PSG resume their fight to recapture the Ligue 1 title at the weekend when they come up against Lens at the Parc des Prince on Saturday, before heading to Manchester for the return leg against City. 

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Mahrez asked De Bruyne for permission to take the free-kick that made it 2-1 to Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne reveals what he whispered to Riyad Mahrez as Man City’s captain for the night sprang a surprise by letting the winger take the free-kick that sealed victory over PSG

  • Man City were 1-0 down to PSG at half-time in the first leg of the semi-final 
  • But goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez completed the comeback
  • De Bruyne scored the first with a cross, before Mahrez’s free-kick made it 2-1 
  • And Mahrez asked De Bruyne permission to take it before scoring the winner 

Kevin de Bruyne gave Riyad Mahrez permission to take the free-kick that led to Manchester City’s second goal, which proved to be the winner in their 2-1 victory against Paris St Germain.

Manchester City went into half-time 1-0 down, but a Kevin de Bruyne-inspired comeback in the second half means they go into the return leg at home next week with a 2-1 advantage, as they eye their first ever Champions League final.

De Bruyne scored in the 64th minute from a cross that no one got on the end of, and seven minutes later City were awarded a free-kick from 20 yards out that was very much in the kind of range that De Bruyne would’ve liked.

Riyad Mahrez lines up his free-kick after asking Kevin de Bruyne if he could take it

But Mahrez asked if he could take it instead, and De Bruyne let him.      

‘I said if you believe in yourself, so who am I to say no? I believe in all my team-mates,’ De Bruyne told BT Sport.

De Bruyne was awarded Man of the Match for his performance on the night, but things could’ve been very different after Marquinhos headed in the opener after just 15 minutes.

But Pep Guardiola’s side slowed things down in the second half, and eventually their patience reaped rewards. 

Mahrez scored a free-kick that gave Manchester City a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg

Mahrez scored a free-kick that gave Manchester City a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg

‘We know there are moments where we will suffer, you have to set your mind that you need to run hard,’ De Bruyne said.  

‘I think we started well first 10 mins, they got great quality up front, shame the way we conceded.

‘After 25 minutes we changed how we pressed, we had chances, second half much better, put them under pressure, first goal lucky but we played great football in second half.

‘Just to play more with ball, we were too rushed in first half, we are not set up to go forward too quickly, we found spaces more patiently in second half, progression we made was good.

Of course, (the tie) it is set up in perfect position we kept going and second goal is good for us, but still a game to go, so concentrate on that.’

De Bruyne was awarded Man of the Match for his performance after scoring his side's opener

De Bruyne was awarded Man of the Match for his performance after scoring his side’s opener

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Mauricio Pochettino at a loss to explain ‘disappointing’ and ‘really painful’ mistakes from PSG

Mauricio Pochettino at a loss to explain ‘disappointing’ and ‘really painful’ mistakes from PSG in Manchester City defeat… insisting they are ‘difficult to accept’ in a Champions League semi-final

  • Paris Saint-Germain did take the lead against Man City through Marquinhos 
  • But two errors means they now trail in the semi-final ahead of the second leg 
  • Kevin De Bruyne’s cross was not dealt with as City improved in the second half
  • Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick found a gap in the wall to score the second goal for City 

Mauricio Pochettino admits his Paris Saint-Germain side were ‘very disappointed’ with the mistakes which handed Manchester City two away goals in their win at the Parc des Princes.

Having taken the lead through Marquinhos’ header, the Ligue 1 side conceded twice to trail at the halfway point in the Champions League semi-final ahead of next week’s second leg in Manchester.

Kevin De Bruyne’s floated cross found the corner of Keylor Navas’ net after the defenders failed to deal with it, before Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick went through Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes in the wall for City’s second.

Mauricio Pochettino admitted he was ‘very disappointed’ with PSG’s mistakes against Man City

The PSG defenders failed to deal with Kevin De Bruyne's cross which ended up in the corner of the net

The PSG defenders failed to deal with Kevin De Bruyne’s cross which ended up in the corner of the net

And speaking after the game to BT Sport, former Tottenham boss Pochettino admitted the errors were ‘really painful’ and ‘difficult to accept’ in a game of such magnitude.

‘[It was] two accidents for the two goals,’ the Argentine said.  

‘I think we feel very disappointed. It was difficult to accept that it happened in the semi-final, and that is really painful that it happened in this moment.’

The mistakes came after a first half which the French champions dominated, but Pochettino admitted they struggled with the physical demands of keeping Pep Guardiola’s side at bay in the second half. 

Riyad Mahrez then found a gap between Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes to score

Riyad Mahrez then found a gap between Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes to score

‘It is difficult for them to explain why we were better in the first half, but they were more consistent in second half,’ he added.

‘I think it was difficult for us to cope with the demand and the physical condition. 

‘They were a little bit more aggressive, and it was difficult for us to recover the ball, sometimes it was a lot of possession for Manchester City, and of course it made it difficult to play.

‘We didn’t show the energy you need when you recover the ball to keep possession and try to force them go deep.’

All that came after defender Marquinhos had given the hosts a first-half lead in Paris

All that came after defender Marquinhos had given the hosts a first-half lead in Paris

Pochettino admitted his side struggled with the physical side of the game in the second half

Pochettino admitted his side struggled with the physical side of the game in the second half

Pochettino’s night was made worse with 13 minutes remaining when Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a horrible challenge on the back of Ilkay Gundogan’s Achilles tendon.

Opta state it was the first time since Alvaro Arbeloa in 2012-2013 that a player had received a second red card in the same Champions League campaign after the former Everton midfielder’s sending off against RB Leipzig in the group stages.

PSG tried to argue on the field De Bruyne should have met the same fate eight minutes later after he stepped on the top of substitute Danilo Pereira’s foot, but Pochettino had no complaints about either decision. 

Asked if the sending off showed PSG’s building frustration, Pochettino added: ‘No, it was an action like De Bruyne, it can be yellow, it can be red. 

‘I am not going to complain about that, only maybe that it was an action… you cannot stick this action with the game. It was an individual action.’ 

Idrissa Gueye also saw red after a horrendous challenge on City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan

Idrissa Gueye also saw red after a horrendous challenge on City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan

PSG players believed De Bruyne should have met the same fate, but Pochettino had no complaints

PSG players believed De Bruyne should have met the same fate, but Pochettino had no complaints

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Foden is ahead of De Bruyne as the MOST important player in Man City’s team right now, says Lescott

Phil Foden is ahead of Kevin De Bruyne as the MOST important player in Manchester City’s team right now, insists Joleon Lescott… as Owen Hargreaves praises ‘fabulous’ midfielder’s ‘scary’ end product this season

  • Phil Foden has scored 14 goals and recorded nine assists for Man City this term
  • Only Kevin De Bruyne with 25 has more goal involvements than him for City 
  • But Joleon Lescott believes in the current side that Foden is more important 
  • Owen Hargreaves believes De Bruyne is still more important but praised Foden 

Phil Foden is currently more important to Manchester City’s team than star man Kevin De Bruyne, according to former defender Joleon Lescott.

The 20-year-old has established himself as one of City’s most dangerous players this season, having scored 14 goals and recorded nine assists across all competitions.

His return this season means only De Bruyne – who signed a new four-year deal at the club earlier this month on a contract worth more than his previous £300,000 a week before bonuses – has more goal involvements this term than Foden, having scored eight goals and laid on 17 assists.

Phil Foden (L) is currently more important to Manchester City’s team than Kevin De Bruyne (R), according to Joleon Lescott

The 20-year-old midfielder has scored 14 goals and laid on nine assists so far this season

The 20-year-old midfielder has scored 14 goals and laid on nine assists so far this season

But speaking to BT Sport ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, Lescott maintained that while the 29-year-old is the most important player at the club, Foden’s current form means he is more pivotal in the current side. 

‘I would argue that Phil is the most important player in the team,’ Lescott said.

‘In the club, you would say Kevin De Bruyne, he has got the contract to suggest that, but on current form and impact in games, Phil Foden for me is the most important player.

‘He contributes so much to the team going forward, his energy, he leads the line with work-rate off the ball and his quality in possession is second to none.’

Only De Bruyne with 25 has more goal involvements for City this term than Foden

Only De Bruyne with 25 has more goal involvements for City this term than Foden

But Lescott believes Foden's current form makes him more pivotal to Pep Guardiola's side

But Lescott believes Foden’s current form makes him more pivotal to Pep Guardiola’s side

Former Man City midfielder Owen Hargreaves however believes Belgium midfielder De Bruyne is still the top dog at the Etihad Stadium.

But he nonetheless praised England counterpart Foden – who scored a goal in each leg of the quarter final against Borussia Dortmund – for earning the right to play after ousting Raheem Sterling in Pep Guardiola’s XI. 

‘I think anybody can see he is fabulous, his end product is so good,’ Hargreaves said.

‘His effect on the game is remarkable, and 14 goals and nine assists for a young man is scary.

‘He can obviously play in so many different positions. That is what he is great at, always checking his shoulder, and he has that little bit of magic in him. 

Foden scored a goal in each leg in the Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund

Foden scored a goal in each leg in the Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund

Former City midfielder Hargreaves

Man City winger Sterling

And Owen Hargreaves believes he has earned the right after ousting Raheem Sterling

‘I think to the point now where you talk about the most important player in Manchester City’s team, it is Kevin De Bruyne I think.

‘But I think Phil has earned right now to the point where Raheem Sterling is on the bench, that Phil Foden is the one they are looking to for the big goals like he scored against Dortmund.’

Former City goalkeeper Joe Hart was on the Tottenham bench at the weekend and saw Foden and his team-mates win their first silverware of the season in the Carabao Cup final at their expense.

And the 34-year-old believes it is the clarity of mind with which he is playing with currently that is proving most beneficial to him.

‘He is clean, his rhythm is good is good at the moment,’ Hart added.

‘Football can seem a really, really tough game at times, but he is definitely in a moment now where, when he is putting his boots on he is not thinking about anything else other than how he is going to affect the game and people getting him the ball.’

Joe Hart was on the Tottenham bench at the weekend to see City beat his side at Wembley

Joe Hart was on the Tottenham bench at the weekend to see City beat his side at Wembley

And the 34-year-old believes the clarity with which Foden is playing with is proving beneficial

And the 34-year-old believes the clarity with which Foden is playing with is proving beneficial

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