Blocking a shot is like scoring a goal – Walker salutes City’s defensive heroes
Posted On May 5, 2021
Kyle Walker praised Manchester City’s defensive heroism after a 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain booked a place in their first Champions League final.
First-leg hero Riyad Mahrez scored one goal in each half, giving him three points in the overall standings, as Pep Guardiola’s side closed in an overall triumph of 4-1.
Angel Di Maria’s petulant red card for sending Fernandinho off meant that City had fun against a scruffy PSG in the playoffs, but it wasn’t always that easy for Premier League leaders.
Last-minute blockages were a hallmark 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 blended in perfectly with the Brazilian superstar and told BT Sport that City’s defensive improvement this season has been key to opening up new horizons for them in Europe.
“Against great quality players like this you have to make a change,” he said, after City’s four full-backs made their way through key moments.
“I thought John, Ruben and Oleks had made some big blocks at crucial times and I thought we were in good control of the game, considering how much talent they have up front.
“It’s a team game. We’re all going to celebrate a goal. We are high fiving when we score goals, but as defenders the main thing is to keep the sheets clean.
“I think this season we’ve been very successful at doing that and we’ve really improved our defensive mission.
“Blocking a shot is like scoring a goal for me.”
Walker has won possession eight times, more than any of his teammates, with six tackles, another better score for City.
His three interceptions were tied by Fernandinho and Mahrez, while Stones (four) and Dias (three) led the way in clearances and blocks respectively.
These efforts have played an important role in City, avoiding the heartbreak they have suffered against Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon over the past three seasons.
“I don’t think it’s a question of being too anxious, I think it puts pressure on us,” said England right-back.
“Obviously we’re going back to Anfield when we threw them in the first leg. In the second leg we tried to bring him back but it was not good enough.
“The second year we go to Tottenham, people miss penalties and these things happen, but again we probably lost him in the first leg. We chased him, came back here and conceded two quick goals.
“Then last year, under different circumstances, it was a stage and it was a fitting cup game. Anything can happen in this kind of game.
“To go out there and get the well-deserved victory and then beat them 2-0 and keep a clean sheet is all credit to this team.”