De Bruyne and Mahrez goals lead stunning second-half City fightback

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UEFA Champions League semi-finals 1st leg:

Paris St Germain 1 Manchester City 2 – Parc Des Princes, Paris – Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City produced brilliant football to come back from behind to beat Paris St Germain 1-2 away at Parc Des Princes, Paris and wrest control of the semi-final with the first-leg win on Wednesday night.

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City were more on the ball in the early stages of the game, but PSG were a threat on the counter with Neymar testing City goalkeeper Ederson twice with shots on target.

PSG surged ahead with its attacks and went into the lead in the 15th minute when Marquinhos glanced in a header from an Angel Di Maria corner.

Leandro Paredes could have made it 2-0 for the Parisiennes but headed Neymar’s corner a little wide.

Neymar with his guile and an Angel Di Maria still imaginative at 33, pinned the City defense to the wall as they led wave upon wave of attacks but Guardiola’s men stood resolute in defense and kept the damage to just the solitary goal when they went into the interval.

City’s only chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute when Phil Foden, played in by Silva, shot too close to PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

City came back after the break looking much more positive and their endeavours paid off in the 64th minute when Kevin de Bruyne floated a deceptive curling cross that evaded everyone inside the box and drifted beyond a completely stranded PSG keeper Kaylor Navas to enter the net at the far post.

Guardiola’s men took a stranglehold of the possession, reducing the once threatening Neymar and Mbappe to mere spectators as the duo was completely starved of service.

City immediately threatened to add more as a Foden header went wide and Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne came close to scoring.

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With the PSG attacking trio of Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria totally losing steam, City went ahead from a Mahrez free-kick that eluded the rival wall to beat Navas on 71 minutes.

Six minutes later, a 22-pass marathon from City forced a frustrated Idris Gueye to hack down Ilkay Gundogan and have himself sent off with a red card.

There was only more of the same as Neymar received a yellow card for a bad-tempered kick on Ruben Dias. The Premier League leaders showed all their qualities before the final whistle was blown and took a huge step in realizing their Champions’ League dreams.

Special mention has to made of City defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones who were simply splendid in the face of PSG’s blitzkrieg-like attacks in the first half while wing-backs Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker turned serious attackers in the period post interval when they were largely responsible for pinning PSG back in their own half.

Despite their brilliant first-leg show in Paris, Guardiola ‘s muted expression after the final whistle indicated that he will take nothing for granted with the dangerous PSG side arriving at the Etihad Stadium in six days’ time.

But then, City have never been so beautifully poised to reach the finals of the Champions League.

PSG in a 4-3-3 formation: Navas (goal), Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker, Gueye, Parades (Herrera 83), Veratti, Di Maria (Danilo 80), Mbappe, Neymar

Substitutes not used: Kean, Diallo, Rafinha, Rico, Kurzawa, Draxler, Icardi, Kehrer, Sarabia, Dagba

Red card: Gueye

Manchester City in a 4-3-3 formation: Ederson (goal), Cancelo (Zinchenko 61 ), Dias, Stones, Walker, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden

Substitutes not used: Ake, Fernandinho, Torres, Mendy, Sterling, Laporte, Aguero, Garcia, Steffen, Jesus, Trafford

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