Champions League: How City Staged Superb Fightback To Stun PSG

 

Trailing at the break to a first-half Marquinhos header, Pep Guardiola’s side staged a stunning turnaround after the break at the Parc des Princes.

 

Second half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez saw City fight back from behind to clinch a superb Champions League semi-final first leg triumph at Paris Saint-Germain.

 

Having first drawn level through skipper De Bruyne’s 64th minute cross-cum shot, City then took an all-important lead thanks to Mahrez’s 71st minute free-kick.

 

On a night of high drama the hosts were then reduced to 10 men when Idrissa Guye was sent off for a blatant foul on Ilkay Gundogan.

 

And City deservedly held firm to seal a famous and crucial victory – one of the finest in their European history.

 

Of course, it’s still only half-time in the tie – but last night’s result will put City in great heart ahead of next Tuesday’s decisive second leg.

 

WHAT HAPPENED

The mutual respect between the sides that was evident in the build-up was mirrored in an absorbing encounter featuring football of the highest quality.

 

It was PSG offered an early sign of their potent threat on the counter when City lost possession and a quicksilver attack ended with Kylian Mbappe feeding Neymar who drilled in a low shot straight at Ederson.

GOAL: Marquinhos strikes for PSG

The Brazilian keeper then had to be alert again to deny compatriot Neymar once more after some dazzling footwork from the striker opened up a fraction of space in the box before he fired in a snap-shot.

 

The danger signs were there with the hosts denying City time and space – and it was PSG who drew first blood on 16 minutes.

GOAL: Superb Mahrez celebrates

Angel Di Maria whipped in a vicious inswing corner and Marquinhos timed his run to perfection to guide home a powerful header into the bottom corner of the net that gave Ederson no chance.

 

It was a test of character for Guardiola’s side but City almost conjured up a spectacular instant riposte.

 

A pin-point 45-yard cross ball from Joao Cancelo found the advancing Bernardo charging in at the far post and PSG ‘keeper Keylor Navas needed to be alert to keep the effort out at the near post.

 

In what was a compelling end-to-end encounter, PSG’s set-piece delivery was a menacing outlet and Parades sent another header a fraction wide from Neymar’s corner.

 

Stones earned his corn with a vital block to halt Bakker as PSG summoned up another lightning counter before Mahrez followed suit, timing a defensive touch to perfection to halt Neymar as he shaped to shoot from five yards before City conjured up our best chance two minutes before the break.

ALMOST: KDB lets fly with an overhead kick

Having harried Paris into a defensive error, Bernardo seized possession and zipped a pass across to the unmarked Phil Foden in the centre of the box but the England man’s shot was straight at Navas.

 

As so often, the half time message from the boss proved revelatory.

 

There was an extra spring and intensity to City’s work after the restart with Guardiola’s men constantly probing and asking more questions of the hosts and dominating possession.

 

And a piece of De Bruyne magic almost brought us level on the hour, the skipper’s spectacular overhead kick whistling a fraction over the target.

Another brilliant City counter saw Kyle Walker power 60 yards up field and feed an inviting cross but no-one was there to finish.

 

But the all-important goal we sought and merited finally arrived on 65 minutes – and, as so often, it was the skipper who delivered.

 

Receiving the ball from a short corner De Bruyne launched a hopeful 25 yard ball into the box and Navas fatally hesitated waiting for a touch that never came, the ball instead curing into the corner of the net.

 

It was a huge moment both on the night and in context of the overall tie.

 

And a promising night suddenly got even better on 70 minutes as Mahrez fired City ahead from a free-kick.

 

The Algerian exploited a gap in the PSG defensive wall and sailed past Navas to give the blues a precious lead.

 

It was no less than City deserved and with PSG losing their heads, Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Gundogan.

 

A great night could have got even better with Mahrez, Foden and De Bruyne all coming close to extending our advantage.

 

But it was a wonderful night and one of City’s great European displays.

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