De Bruyne, Mahrez on target for Blues in vital semi-final first leg win
* City win 2-1 in Paris to set up thrilling second leg
* Neymar and Mbappe big threats in first half, but not second
* Back to the Etihad on Tuesday night for semi final second leg
Manchester City take a priceless lead away from the Parc Des Princes after an impressive performance in the Champions League semi final first leg.
An opening goal from Marquinhos was answered with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez. City take not only a lead, but two away goals heading into the second leg.
City started the first few minutes of the game in the usual style, with possession and control of proceedings. However, over the course of the first half that control slipped, and PSG asserted themselves all over the pitch. In as little as three minutes, Ederson was called into action to deny an effort from Neymar.
Rodri in particular was struggling in and out of possession and was causing problems for the City backline. He was not the only one struggling though. In the 12th minute, a bewildering solo run from Kyle Walker lost the ball in the middle of the pitch and Pep Guardiola was furious.
Another save from Ederson from another shot by Neymar preceded the PSG goal in the 15th minute. The ball from the corner was met by the head of Marquinhos and the French side had the lead. Ilkay Gundogan will not enjoy Pep’s analysis of this one as he just abandoned his man in the box.
City tried to force their way into the game but were unable to make much headway into the PSG defensive shape and were struggling to control proceedings at the other end. Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Di Maria caused problems going into 2nd half, but for the most part, City held firm. Phil Foden had City’s best chance of the half after a square ball from Bernardo Silva reached the England star, but his effort lacked conviction and went straight into the hands of Keylor Navas.
It was not the performance that Pep would have wanted though by any means, and at half time he knew one thing; a vital away goal is a necessity. Whatever Pep said to the players worked wonders because we saw the real Manchester City in the second half. PSG were pressed so hard the French club could bottle the juices and sell them. City allowed no attacks, no real threats and bossed the game for the remaining time.
Shortly after, Kevin De Bruyne scored the equaliser and got his team the vital away goal. His cross to the back post puzzled everyone, including the embarrassed Keylor Navas, and nestled neatly inside the post. The players erupted in celebration.
To make things even better for City, they took the lead in the 71st minute. Riyad Mahrez stepped up to take a free-kick just outside the PSG box and his shot went right through the wall, which helpfully parted at just the wrong moment. Navas was furious, but City were in dreamland.
PSG were crumbling at this point. Frustrated at their inability to break down City’s defensive shape. Neymar was booked for kicking Dias. Shortly after, Idrissa Gana Gueye was sent off for a troubling stamp on Ilkay Gundogan. The card was justified as the foul demonstrated a disgusting lack of professionalism.
The final whistle went, and City celebrated. The job is only half done, but at 1-0 down away in Europe, they could have easily fallen apart. They did not, but came back. focused and showed PSG another level. Do that again next week and they’ll be in the Champions League final…