Kyle Walker hailed Manchester City’s defensive heroics after a 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain booked a place in their maiden Champions League final.
First-leg hero Riyad Mahrez scored a goal in each half, giving him three in the tie overall, as Pep Guardiola’s side closed out a 4-1 aggregate triumph.
Angel Di Maria’s petulant red card for kicking out at Fernandinho meant City enjoyed themselves against a bedraggled PSG during the closing stages, but it was not always that straightforward for the Premier League leaders.
Last-ditch blocks were a feature of a relentless defensive performance, with Ruben Dias’ efforts to thwart Ander Herrera and Oleksandr Zinchenko’s intervention to deny Neymar particularly impressive.
Walker also tangled superbly with the Brazil superstar and told BT Sport that City’s defensive improvement this season has been key to them breaching new ground in Europe.
“Against top-quality players like that you need to put in a shift,” he said, after City’s back four high-fived their way through key moments.
“I thought John, Ruben and Oleks made some important blocks at crucial times and I thought we controlled the game well, considering the amount of talent they’ve got up front.
“It’s a team game. We all go and celebrate a goal. We’re high-fiving when we score goals but fur us as defenders the main thing is keeping clean sheets.
“I think this season we’ve done tremendously well in doing that and really sharpened up on our defensive duty.
“Blocking a shot is just like scoring a goal for me.”
— Zack Steffen (@zacksteffen_) May 4, 2021
Walker gained possession eight times, more than any of his team-mates, with six tackles another best mark for City.
His three interceptions were matched by Fernandinho and Mahrez, while Stones (four) and Dias (three) led the way in clearances and blocks respectively.
Those efforts were a huge part in City avoiding the heartache they suffered against Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon over the past three seasons.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of being over-anxious, I think it’s putting the pressure on ourselves,” the England right-back said.
“Obviously we go back to Anfield when we threw it away in the first leg. In the second leg we tried to bring it back but it wasn’t good enough.
“The second year we go to Tottenham, people miss penalties and these things happen but again we probably lost it in the first leg. We were chasing it, coming back here and conceded two quick goals.
“Then last year, under different circumstances it was one leg and it was a proper cup game. Anything can happen in those sort of games.
“To go over there and get the well-earned victory, then beat them 2-0 and keep a clean sheet is full credit to this squad.”
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