Manchester City reached their first ever UEFA Champions League final with a 2-0 victory against ten-man Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday evening.
The hosts enjoyed the perfect start as Riyad Mahrez followed up his goal in Paris with the opening strike at the Etihad Stadium. The Algerian then doubled his night’s work as he polished off a lethal counter-attack mid-way through the second-half.
Paris Saint Germain’s task then got even harder shortly after with Angel Di Maria receiving a straight red card for a stamp on Fernandinho as Pep Guardiola’s troops sealed a fantastic 4-1 aggregate win.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Paris-born Mahrez has certainly had an impact against PSG this season. His goals both home and away for Pep Guardiola’s men mean that he is just the second player to find the net in both legs of a Champions League semi-final for an English club after Sadio Mane in 2018.
Whilst he has found electric form against the Parisians, the Algerian has also proven to be key for City in the competition in general. He has now scored or assisted in each of his last five Champions League appearances. His two finishes now takes his record to ten goals and 12 assists in 33 appearances in the competition for both Leicester and Manchester City.
Guardiola will certainly hope that he can star once again in the final in Istanbul.
Pep breaks UCL curse
For all of the praise that Guardiola has earned in his time at Manchester City, and justifiably so, there has always been an elephant in the room for the Spaniard. That problem has continually been the UEFA Champions League.
Previously in his tenure, the Manchester club had never managed to go beyond the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Guardiola himself had also not managed to reach a final in a decade.
That run is now over then and in emphatic style. The soon-to-be Premier League champions turned in a hugely impressive and mature performance to not only keep PSG at arms’ length but also strike at the key moments. Meanwhile, it was also impressive how the hosts kept their heads once the game had got fiery shortly after Di Maria’s red card. So, having reached the final, it could certainly be a watershed moment for Guardiola and Manchester City.
They can be backed at a price of 2/5 with Betfair to win the final where they will play against either Real Madrid or Premier League rivals Chelsea.
PSG lose their heads (again)
Whilst Manchester City have to be commended for their professional and assured showing to reach the final, the same simply cannot be said for PSG. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were inflammatory throughout the majority of the game in Manchester and got increasingly more petulant as the match wore on.
Even after Di Maria’s sending-off, the tackles continued to fly in with Marco Verratti, Presnel Kimpembe and Ander Herrera all picking up bookings. It could certainly have been even more though.
Having reached the final last season against Bayern Munich, there were hopes that PSG could go one better having learned the lessons from last season and dismissed of the reigning European champions in the previous round. However, the familiar mental problems reared their heads once again for the visitors as they were eventually eliminated.
Manchester City: Ederson (7); Zinchenko (7), Stones (7), Dias (8), Walker (7); Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (6), Silva (6) (Sterling (N/A), 82′); Foden (7) (Aguero (N/A), 85′), De Bruyne (7) (Jesus (N/A), 82′), Mahrez (8).
Paris Saint Germain: Navas (7); Diallo (6) (Bakker (N/A), 82′), Marquinhos (6), Kimpembe (5), Florenzi (6) (Dagba (6), 75′); Paredes (5) (Danilo (6), 75′), Verratti (5), Herrera (6) (Draxler (5), 62′); Di Maria (4), Neymar (6), Icardi (5) (Kean (5), 62′)
Goals: Mahrez (11′, 63′)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Yellow Cards: Herrera (22′), Verratti (71′), Zinchenko (71′), De Bruyne (74′), Kimpembe (87′)
Red Cards: Di Maria (69′)
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