Riyad Mahrez’s twin strikes send Man City to first ever finals
UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg – The Etihad stadium – Tuesday, 4 May 2021
Manchester City 2 Paris St Germain 0 (Manchester City win 4-2 on aggregate)
Goals: Riyad Mahrez – 11m, 63m
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City progressed to their first Champions League final as they overcame Paris St Germain on the back of two brilliant goals by Riyad Mahrez at the Etihad stadium on the night of May 4th.
As powdery unseasonal snow blanketed the Etihad stadium, Manchester City were in for an early scare when referee Bjorn Kuipers awarded PSG a penalty for a handball by Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Going into Tuesday’s deciding second leg tie with a 2-1 lead from the first, City took complete control of the proceedings and went ahead in the 11th minute with goalkeeper Ederson initiating the move. The Brazilian’s perfect long pass over the top released Zinchenko down the left flank as he cut the ball back to Kevin De Bruyne at the edge of the box.
They almost found a couple when Marquinhos’ looping header off a corner clipped the crossbar and Di Maria failed to capitalize on a poor Bernardo Silva clearance as he shot wide with the goal wide open.
City meanwhile were finding lots of space to counter-attack with Mahrez stretching Navas from a shooting opportunity at the near post as the score went into the break reading 1-0.
The Parisiennes continued putting pressure but could not find a way through a stubborn City defense.
Neymar, who in the absence of his talismanic striking partner Kylian Mbappe was muted for most of the night, at last found some space inside the area and tried dribbling past defenders to get a clear shot, but Zinchenko produced a superb block to deny the Brazilian.
That was followed by some fine defensive work from Ruben Dias when he threw himself in the path of Ander Herrera’s goalbound volley.
There was no coming back into the game for the French giants and their frustrations boiled over when Di Maria was sent off in the 69th minute for stamping on Fernandinho as he went to retrieve the ball for a throw-in.
The PSG attack was toothless to some extent without the presence of the brilliant Mbappe but there is no taking away from City’s performance that was an embodiment of great maturity and professionalism. To quote Guardiola’s words on the historic entry into the finals “‘Getting to the final makes sense of what we’ve done in the past four or five years’
Manchester City starting XI: Ederson (goal), Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Mahrez, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Foden (Aguero 85), De Bruyne (Gabriel Jesus 82), Bernardo Silva (Sterling 82)
Subs not used: Ake, Steffen, Laporte, Rodri, Torres, Mendy Joao Cancelo, Carson.
PSG starting XI: Navas, Florenzi (Dagba 75), Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo (Bakker 82), Ander Herrera (Draxler 62), Paredes (Danilo Pereira 75), Verratti, Di Maria, Icardi (Kean 62), Neymar
Subs not used: Kehrer,Mbappe-Lottin, Rafinha, Sergio Rico, Sarabia, Kurzawa, Randriamamy.
Red card: Di Maria (69)
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