Man City 2 - 0 PSG (4-1 agg) | UCL | 04.05.21

Manchester City advance to their first Champions League final after a 2-0 (4-1 agg) victory over a PSG. Their assured performance was befitting of their new position atop European football.

Man City 2 - 0 PSG (4-1 agg) | UCL | 04.05.21

Manchester City advance to their first Champions League final after a 2-0 (4-1 agg) victory over a PSG. Riyad Mahrez starred with two goals, with further contributions from John Stones and the ever-present Ruben Dias, who demoralised the Parisians before City struck. Their assured performance was befitting of their new position atop European football.

PSG's hopes were dealt an early blow with the forced omission of Kylian Mbappe. The irreplaceable Frenchman picked up a calf injury at the weekend; he was sorely missed. The Paris side started the better of the two sides and thought they had an early opportunity to take the lead when Björn Kuipers blew for a handball on Zinchenko after only 7 mins. The PSG players vocal protestation were clearly a factor in the referee's decision to award the spot-kick. Thankfully, and I don't say this very often, VAR was there to correct his error. An early example of PSG at their theatrical best.

City dealt the first blow on the night – the pinnacle of long-ball play. A trademark Ederson pass released Zinchenko running through on the left flank. The keeper's pinpoint pass was eventually played through to De Bruyne after the full-back, Zinchenko, found him on the edge of the box. Kimpembe initially dealt well to block, but the rebound fell to the red hot Mahrez, who slotted home past Navas on the angle. His second goal in this semi-final tie and a fantastic start for the Manchester club after 11 minutes.

Another goalscorer from last week came close to pulling PSG level. Marquinhos' header bounced off the City crossbar after a well-worked corner from the visitors. Not long after, Di Maria should have given them parity. Ederson, always keen to restart play quickly, was a little too eager; the Argentine winger retrieved his pass bound for Foden but struck an effort, just outside the area, wide of an open net, with the keeper stranded well outside his goal.

We were treated to a feisty first 20 minutes in Manchester; Ander Herrera, the chief instigator. His petulant reaction to a free-kick decision resulted in a yellow card – like in Paris, more of that came from the side.

The tie settled after a pulsating for half an hour; City calmed to their default possessional stranglehold. Their compact shape, the most impressive part of their first-half performance, prevented PSG from advancing into dangerous areas. When Pochettino's men did manage to break the lines, Stones and Dias blocked shots, cleared, and tackled robustly to deal with any threat before it materialised.
PSG were unable to exert a real threat without Mbappe's presence and blistering pace. His replacement, Icardi, anonymous throughout.

After initial sparring, the second period produced some decent openings for both sides. First, City came close to sealing it in 53rd minute when Foden, clean through on goal, struck right at the spread Navas. The Englishman displayed rare naivety, straying offside when he had time and the position to see across the PSG backline. Shortly after, the French team responded. The frantic Di Maria chased down Kyle Walker's clearance before the ball fell to Neymar, who, after a trademark dribble and shimmy, unleashed another shot which the recovering Zinchenko rejected. The sight of City defenders subsequently rejoicing epitomised their defensive resolve.

The block of the night award – yes, there were that many – goes to Ruben Dias. Herrera's volley just after the hour on the edge of the area was destined for the City net before Dias thrust his head into its path. A marvellous defensive display from the  Portuguese defender. PSG pushed desperately for a route back into the tie bringing on attackers Moise Kean and Julian Draxler. With so many forwards on the pitch, they were open and caught out by City's precision. Ederson to Zinchenko, Zinchenko to Foden, a one-two with De Bruyne inside, squared to Mahrez, who finished past a helpless Navas. A brilliant second from the Citizens left PSG only 25 mins to score three.

No chance, as it turned out, as PSG's mental fragilities were exposed once more. Gueye last week, Di Maria tonight. His childish outburst against Fernandinho resulted in a straight red. Pochettino, returning to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs with Spurs, was reduced to a nursery school minder in his attempts to pacify his reckless players.

Bested with 11 men on the pitch, PSG did not stand much of a chance with 10. The hosts toyed with them in the final 20 mins, comfortably stringing together beautiful flowing moves. One nearly resulted in a third. Birthday boy and City captain, Fernandinho played a lovely flick into Foden, who bobbed and weaved before unleashing a fierce strike that cannoned off the foot of the post.

Like last weeks encounter, City spared their guests' further embarrassment; the final whistle was mercy for PSG and ecstasy for Pep's side. Joyous scenes! Mbappe's absence clearly hampered PSG's chances, but it was City's night through and through. Their first final berth awaits in Istanbul in 3 weeks, the holy grail, the opportunity to complete a 13-year project.