Manchester City finished the job they started a week ago in Paris as they booked their place in the Champions League final for the first time in their history.
It was a glorious night in Manchester as two goals from Riyad Mahrez, one in each half, secured a 4-1 aggregate victory over the French champions, who had Angel di Maria sent off in the second half for stamping on Fernandinho. By that point, City were already two goals to the good and dominating the match as they finally showed their true European ambitions.
But the pre-match talk centred around the fitness of French star Kylian Mbappe, so often touted as a talisman in the PSG side, but barely a threat in the first leg as the blues came back from 1-0 down to bring a 2-1 advantage back to the Etihad.
The striker was deemed not fit to start, but took a place on the bench, leaving the responsibility and Parisian hopes with Brazilian and former Barcelona star Neymar, as they looked to repeat their last visit to Manchester when they beat United 3-1 at Old Trafford in December. The striker had said before the match that he would ‘die on the pitch’ to beat the blues, a statement that wasn’t lived up to.
There was also some confusion amongst the faithful during the afternoon as former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson visited the Lowry Hotel where the PSG players were staying, but not too inference can be drawn on his visit, he may well have just been passing and fancied a bacon sandwich and the fact PSG were there was completely coincidental!
City made several changes to the side that took the blues to the brink of another Premier League title, as they once again faced a European team without a recognised striker. Some may have questioned Pep’s tactics in such a big match, however he has proved time and again that City have the resources to score from anywhere and a big-name striker isn’t always necessary.
But it looked like the plan would backfire as PSG were awarded a penalty after just 7 minutes. However, after a VAR review the decision was overturned and the blues breathed a sigh of relief. That sigh turned into screams of joy just three minutes later as Ederson’s superb ball forward found Zinchenko in acres of space. The Ukraine international played in Kevin de Buryne, whose was deflected wide. Mahrez was first to react and fired the ball through the legs of Navas to send City 3-1 up on aggregate.
PSG attempted to force their way back into the game, relying on Neymar and some questionable theatrics that could earn the team an Oscar at next year’s ceremony. But the more PSG threw at the City team, the sterner the blues defended, with Ruben Dias outstanding in defence.
The blues started the second half as the finished the first, but had another scare as Neymar attacked the City defence, delaying his shot until the City defenders had committed themselves, however Zinchenko stuck with him and brilliantly blocked the Brazilian’s shot. With the possibility of an away goal, the bleus needed a second to put the tie to bed. And it duly came courtesy of the Algerian winger.
A Neymar free-kick was dealt with by City and when the ball came out to de Bruyne, there was only ever going to be one outcome. The Belgian fed Phil Foden on the left and the youngster charged forward, leaving the visitors in his wake. Foden played the ball back to de Bruyne and just kept running, expecting the return pass, which was a pinpoint ball to Foden’s feet. The Stockport Iniesta’s first time cross found Mahrez completely unmarked to fire home his second and send City to Istanbul.
Six minutes later, PSG completely lost the plot as di Maria and Fernandinho came to on the touchline. The Argentine seemed upset with Ferna and tried to lash out, before stamping on the Brazilian to earn himself a straight red and complete a night of misery for the French side.
City could have added to the scoreline when Foden showed exceptional skill to control a pass from Fernandinho, before storming forward and firing a shot against the base of the post.
With the game won, City played out the remainder of the match without adding to the scoreline, while limiting the visitors to exactly zero shots on target. It is City’s sixth successive win in the Champions League knock out stage, and the blues have won all but one of their Champions League fixtures this season, with the only blip coming in a 0-0 draw at Porto in December.
Just one more and the blues will be crowned Champions of Europe for the first time.
Final Score: Manchester City 2-0 PSG – Manchester City win 4-1 on aggregate.