Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe reacts as Manchester City players celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League first leg semi-final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City on April 28, 2021 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
Manchester City advanced to the Champions League final by coming from behind to win 2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last-four tie on Wednesday.
PSG took a deserved half-time lead thanks to Marquinhos’ header, but Pep Guardiola’s City dominated the second half, with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez turning the game on its head.
While home midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye was sent off late in the game, PSG avoided conceding a third goal to keep their hopes alive ahead of the second leg in Manchester next Tuesday.
Three Takeaways From PSG vs. Man City
Manchester City came from behind to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, and Riyad Mahrez’s free kick 19 minutes from time put them within touching distance of their first-ever Champions League final.
PSG captain Marquinhos gave the hosts an early advantage, but City settled down after halftime to take a commanding lead.
Before Mahrez’s strike found a hole in the Parisian wall, Kevin De Bruyne’s cross found its way into the far corner for a crucial away goal to level the game.
Consider the following three talking points from an exciting first leg:
The city has learned their lesson.
Pep Guardiola’s five seasons as manager of Manchester City have been packed with domestic victories and Champions League exits.
This is the first time the English champions-elect have even made it to the last four under the Catalan coach, but they displayed a new maturity on the European stage to weather the early Paris storm.
City’s previous Champions League exits were marked by several goals conceded in quick succession.
Despite the early blow of Marquinhos’ towering header, the visitors maintained their cool to go into halftime just a goal down.
Guardiola’s men found their rhythm after the break, but this time they took advantage of two defensive blunders to take hold of the tie.
To begin with, Keylor Navas misjudged the flight of De Bruyne’s cross, which nestled in the far corner before Mahrez’s free kick flew through a gaping hole in the PSG wall.
Mbappe and Neymar were ruled ineligible.
In a thrilling quarter-final, PSG’s star duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were too hot for reigning champions Bayern Munich to tackle, but City demonstrated why they have the best defensive record in the Champions League this season.
Neymar threatened to ignite the game early on with his fast footwork, but the centre-back partnership of Ruben Dias and John Stones that has taken Guardiola’s team to the brink of the Premier League title held firm.
Just once did Mbappe’s pace leave Stones for dead, but Marco Verratti just missed connecting with Mbappe’s teasing low cross with the chance to double PSG’s lead early in the second half.
There is still plenty for City to do in the second leg next week, but PSG will need much more magic from the world’s two most expensive ever players if they are to reach a second consecutive Champions League final.
Mahrez makes an impression at homecoming
The Algerian grew up in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, but it’s been a long and winding path back to scoring the winning goal in a Champions League semi-final in his hometown.
Mahrez did not come from one of France’s renowned youth academies, instead joining Leicester from Ligue 2 side Le Havre.
He was a key figure in Leicester City’s impressive Premier League victory in 2015/16, and he finally got his big break in 2018.
Despite costing a then-club-record £60 million ($83 million), Mahrez played only a minor role in City’s domestic treble-winning season in his debut.
But he has matured as a City player this season, being one of Guardiola’s first names on the teamsheet, while Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, and Gabriel Jesus have had to settle for bench spots.
When City were awarded a free kick in an ideal spot, all eyes were on De Bruyne.
However, the Belgian’s decision to step aside for Mahrez proved to be the correct one, as his left-footed effort gave City a priceless lead in the fight between two clubs with seemingly bottomless pits of cash to throw at winning this competition for the first time.