Man City get big-time performances from their big-time players, putting them on the brink of a long-coveted Champions League final


ESPN 28 April, 2021 - 05:43pm 13 views

What channel is Man City vs PSG on?

As for watching PSG vs Man City in the USA, it'll be on CBS Sports Network and Univision. In the UK, it's on BT Sport. MARCA.comPSG vs Manchester City: Final score, goals and reactions

Has Pep won Champions League?

Guardiola has enjoyed huge success in his five years at Manchester City with an eighth trophy on the way once they wrap up the league. But this is the furthest he has taken City in Europe. "It is the second time in our history at this stage," the two-time Champions League winner as Barcelona boss said. bbc.comChampions League: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola tells team not to be 'shy'

"A game of two halves." Rarely in Manchester City's history has this expression made so much sense.

Like they were in Dortmund, in the quarterfinal second leg when they were 1-0 down at half-time and facing the prospect of a disappointing Champions League exit, Pep Guardiola's players were behind against Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday in their semifinal first leg. Deservedly behind, too. The Parisians were too good for City's press, buildup and movement. But again, like all great teams do, they fought back.

Man City showed their character and found a way of not just getting back into the game, but forcing PSG into mistakes that cost them two goals. From being almost unable to create anything in the first 45 minutes, which was so unlike City, the second 45 minutes were everything this team is about: intensity, pressure, aggression and intelligence. Suddenly, it was PSG who were unrecognisable.

The Premier League leaders played much higher up the pitch, finally got full-backs Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo involved, and Kevin De Bruyne was more prevalent. They took the ball away from PSG, preventing them from playing out from the back as well as they did in the first half. Without the ball, there is not much Marco Verratti, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe can do. City made them chase after the ball instead of having it at their feet, and it made all the difference in a 2-1 victory.

The character showed by Guardiola's players to come back into this game, to boss the second half in the way they did, is deserving of high praise. And when you are on top but still trailing 1-0, you need your best players to step up -- and City's did.

This was a special night for Riyad Mahrez. He was back home, in Paris, where he was born and raised. The Parc des Princes is a stadium he used to visit when he was younger to watch Les Rouge et Bleu, and playing there now, for the first time in his career, was always going to be very meaningful. Before this first leg, he would have dreamt of playing a key role in this clash. And he did, just as he did against Borussia Dortmund (an assist at home, a goal away) and Borussia Monchengladbach (scoring in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie). His performance on Wednesday, scoring the winner and being a constant threat, was one of his best since joining Manchester in 2018.

This year, the Algeria international has been one of City's key contributors, alongside Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias, Phil Foden and De Bruyne. Of course, De Bruyne.

"They are an unbelievable team with great players up front," he said after the match. "We pressed them differently after 30 minutes and we put them under more pressure. Then we played great in the second half, even if we are a bit lucky on our first goal. What changed in the second half was that we played more with the ball. It was too rushed in the first half. We tried to go forward too quickly, which is not our game. We tried to find space more patiently, and we did.

"We kept going after the first goal, but there is still a game to go, so we have to focus. We know we will suffer. We know how good they are. We know we have to work hard for the team at times, it will be the same in the second game."

Mahrez and De Bruyne led the way, City went for it, and their character and mental strength made the difference. They forced the Parisians into mistakes. Keylor Navas should have done better on De Bruyne's cross-turned-shot, and only Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes know what on earth they were doing in the wall on Mahrez's free-kick goal. Naturally, Guardiola was a happy man after the game.

"The second half was excellent in every department," he explained. "We need time to be more ourselves. In the first half, we didn't play free. In Dortmund, we conceded a goal first and then we came back, like tonight. I want us to be ourselves. We can only play in one way so we have to get it right."

If PSG lost their way and their focus, as we saw with Idrissa Gueye's red card, it is because Manchester City took the game away from them. In the second half, the hosts threw away everything they had worked so hard to create in the first. Marquinhos' goal made history as the centre-back became only the third player in history to score in the Champions League quarterfinals and semifinals two seasons in a row, after goal-scoring greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. It was not enough on Wednesday. But there is still a second leg for PSG to turn things around.

"We have to believe and go there to play, score goals and win," PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said after the game, ruing the "two accident goals" his team conceded. "It is difficult to accept. It is painful that it happens in a Champions League semifinal."

Travelling to Manchester has been happy hunting for PSG, having won their past two Champions League trips there, including earlier this season. Those results came in the red half of the city, though. Can they do the same on the blue side of town?

Read full article at ESPN

Five Things We Learned: Paris Saint Germain 1-2 Manchester City (Champions League Semi-Final)

Sports Illustrated 29 April, 2021 - 03:29am

Marquinhos headed the hosts into the lead within just fifteen minutes, and the score line stayed that way up until the 64-minute mark.

A typical Kevin De Bruyne cross was struck into the box, however the on-rushing Manchester City players left goalkeeper Keylor Navas rooted to the spot, who left the ball to creep in for an equaliser.

Just over five minutes later, a dangerous free-kick just outside the PSG box was fired straight through the wall and into the net by Riyad Mahrez, giving the away side two much needed away goals to take back to Manchester.

Late frustrations from the Parisians saw yellow cards for Leandro Paredes and Neymar, and a frankly disgraceful challenge from Idrissa Gueye was well-deserved of a straight red card.

Here are five things we learned following Wednesday night's performance...

The Paris side came out all-guns blazing, putting Manchester City under immense pressure early on and leaving the away fans quite understandably concerned. A poorly marked corner delivered by Angel Di Maria left centre back Marquinhos wide open, putting the hosts ahead with a glancing header.

The Blues needed to come back in the second half to get some vital away goals and stand a chance of making the final, and that’s exactly what they did. Two goals, both arguably preventable from PSG’s view, were enough to sink Mauricio Pochettino’s men, and there were plenty of chances that went astray too.

The Belgian has pulled it out of the bag once again.

Another show-stopping performance in the Champions League knockout stages earned the playmaker yet another well-deserved man of the match award. That’s his third in just the knock-out stages already this season, with Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and now Paris Saint-Germain having to watch and admire his unteachable style of play.

De Bruyne, who earned midfielder of the year in the competition last season, can add his performance against PSG to his mesmerising Champions League scrapbook. It’s looking like he could be the key player yet again to take Manchester City through to the next round, just like he did with his two goals against the Parisians back in 2016. 

I hope I’m not jinxing anything by writing this, but did anyone actually notice much of Kylian Mbappe in the contest?

The young Frenchman, who is arguably the best striker in the world at present, with 37 goals to his name this season alone, was almost effortlessly kept at bay by the Manchester City defence.

Ruben Dias and co prevented the talisman from registering a single shot at goal throughout the game, and even goalkeeper Ederson managed to have more touches over the course of the 90 minutes.

Despite a blunder in his performance in the clash, the Manchester City side will still be wary of the threat he possesses in front of goal and will need to shut the Frenchman out once again in the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium next week.

A player I was surprisingly impressed with was Oleksandr Zinchenko, who came on as a substitute for Joao Cancelo just after the 60-minute mark.

The Portuguese international has been one of Manchester City’s most dependable players so far this season but had a mediocre performance by his standards and looked out of his depth marking Kylian Mbappe - receiving an early yellow card.

Aleks Zinchenko however looked calm, composed and controlled. He didn’t allow Mbappe any time to get moving on the ball and helped the Manchester City defence get organised at the back.

The Ukrainian signing for just £1.5 million five years ago has to go down as one of the bargains of the decade, and his performance should have earned himself a place in the starting line-up next week.

Manchester City are closer than ever to reaching a Champions League final – yes you heard that right.

The tie is by no means over yet, and the Manchester City players will know that they have to pull another show-stopping performance out of the bag to get their tickets booked to Istanbul.

If the return fixture is played at any sort of pace and energy as the first, then we are in for a real treat. Pep Guardiola has not lifted the illustrious Champions League trophy since he did with Barcelona back in 2011 – could this finally be his year?

Before then, Manchester City travel to London once again at the weekend to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League. A win for the Blues and a loss for Manchester United against Liverpool will see the Premier League trophy firmly in the Etihad's ever-growing trophy cabinet.

Joe Hart slams PSG's wall for crumbling during Mahrez's free-kick

Daily Mail 28 April, 2021 - 05:14pm

By Jonathan Spencer For Mailonline

PSG's crumbling wall has come under scrutiny following Riyad Mahrez's winner for Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

City stunned PSG in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie in Paris, turning around a 1-0 deficit thanks to second half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Mahrez.

And while City and Mahrez in particular will take home the glory following his late winner, PSG's wall has come in for immense criticism for the role it played in the all-important goal.

Riyad Mahrez's winning free-kick went through PSG's crumbling wall on Wednesday night

The free-kick went through the gap between Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes

Mahrez's rather tame free-kick somehow found its way through Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes, with the PSG duo seeming to jump sideways rather than deal with the effort head on.

And Joe Hart was quick to slam PSG's defending in the wall, admitting the defenders simply didn't do their job when the team needed them the most. 

Following the full-time whistle, former City and now Tottenham goalkeeper Hart said on BT Sport: 'That is a huge moment [Mahrez's goal]. 

'Natural instinct is to move out the way but you have to fight that on the pitch. They have not done their job and they have lost the game.

Mahrez celebrates his winning goal for Manchester City at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday

'They have let human nature come in and not stood up for their team. It is almost impossible to save it. 

'You know from the trajectory of ball you can breathe a sigh of relief as it is hitting wall. But his [Navas'] reaction time is almost none. He would presume it was being dealt with.'

Fellow BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves admitted he was puzzled by how Mahrez's 'terrible' free-kick went in.

Hargreaves added: 'It is actually a terrible free-kick from Mahrez, but it looked more intricate than it was. That ball should never make it to the goal.' 

Meanwhile, Hart's former City team-mate Joleon Lescott also slammed PSG's wall for not taking responsibility.

Joe Hart (L) and Joleon Lescott (R) hit out at the PSG wall for not doing its job late on in Paris

Owen Hargreaves admitted that Mahrez's winning free-kick was actually 'terrible'

Lescott argued: 'It is poor defending. They turned their back, you can argue it's slightly fortunate. There is no blame on the goalkeeper as the wall has responsibility to block it.'

PSG got off to the perfect start in the Champions League semi-final tie, with Marquinhos putting the Parisians in front thanks to an emphatic header from Angel Di Maria's corner in the 15th minute.

However, City fought back ever so impressively in the second half, with De Bruyne's in-swinging cross somehow ending up in the back of PSG's net before Mahrez scored the winner from the free kick.

Then it got a whole lot worse for Pochettino as Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a nasty challenge on Ilkay Gundogan, leaving PSG with it all to do next week at the Etihad to book their place in the Champions League final. 

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