Manchester City reached their first-ever UEFA Champions League final with a 2-0 win over Paris Saint Germain at ten on Tuesday night.
The hosts enjoyed a perfect start as Riyad Mahrez continued his goal in Paris with the opening strike at the Etihad Stadium. The Algerian then doubled his night shift polishing a deadly counterattack midway through the second half.
Paris Saint Germain’s task then became even more difficult soon after, with Angel Di Maria receiving a red card for a stamp on Fernandinho as Pep Guardiola’s troops sealed a fantastic 4-1 aggregate victory.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Born in Paris, Mahrez has certainly made an impact against PSG this season. His home and away goals for Pep Guardiola’s men mean he is only 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.
If he has regained an electric form against the Parisians, the Algerian has also proven to be a key player 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 bring his record to ten goals and 12 assists in 33 appearances in the competition for Leicester and Manchester City.
Guardiola certainly hopes to be able to play in the final in Istanbul again.
Pep breaks the curse of UCL
For all the praise Guardiola has earned during his time at Manchester City, and rightly so, there has always been an elephant in the room for the Spaniard. This problem has always 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 failed to reach a final in a decade.
This race is now over and in an emphatic style. The future Premier League champions put in an extremely impressive and mature performance to not only keep PSG at bay but also strike at key moments. Meanwhile, it was also impressive how the hosts kept their heads once the game got on fire shortly after Di Maria’s red card. So after reaching the final it could certainly be a defining moment for Guardiola and Manchester City.
They can be backed at a cost of 2/5 with Betfair to win the final where they will play against Real Madrid or against Chelsea, their Premier League rivals.
PSG (again) lose their heads
While Manchester City are to be congratulated on their professional and confident performance in reaching the final, the same simply cannot be said for PSG. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were arsonists throughout the match at Manchester and became more and more irritable as the match progressed.
Even after Di Maria was sent off, tackles continued to fly with Marco Verratti, Presnel Kimpembe and Ander Herrera all taking reservations. It certainly could have been even more.
Having reached the final last season against Bayern Munich, it was hoped that PSG could do better after learning from last season and sacking reigning European champions in the previous round. However, familiar mental issues once again raised their heads for visitors as they were ultimately 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 ′)
Arbitrator: Bjorn Kuipers
Yellow cards: Herrera (22 ′), Verratti (71 ′), Zinchenko (71 ′), De Bruyne (74 ′), Kimpembe (87 ′)
Red cards: By Maria (69 ′)