Manchester City reach Champions League final after home win over PSG – originally posted on Sportslens.com
Manchester City have reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history, defeating Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 on aggregate.
PSG thought they had made the perfect start when referee Bjorn Kuipers pointed to the penalty spot after an alleged handball by Oleksandr Zinchenko. However, VAR stepped in and overturned the decision after replays showed that the ball hit the Ukrainian’s shoulder.
Not long afterwards, the hosts took the lead on the night and went two ahead on the tie. A brilliant pass by Ederson found Zinchenko down the left, who cut it back for Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian’s shot was blocked, but the ball fell perfectly for Riyad Mahrez, who slotted through the legs of Keylor Navas.
The visitors weren’t deterred by this, and came within inches of netting an immediate equaliser. Marquinhos, who opened the scoring in the first leg, leapt to meet a cross, but saw his looping header crash back off the crossbar.
Angel Di Maria also had an opportunity to pull one back after Ilkay Gundogan lost the ball carelessly in midfield. The former Manchester United man tried to catch Ederson out from distance, but struck narrowly wide.
Both sides continued to threaten, with De Bruyne and Ander Herrera shooting over from outside the box. But neither side was able to add to the scoreline.
In first half injury time, Man City came close again. Navas denied Mahrez a second at his near post, and the rebound fell to Bernardo Silva, whose deflected effort went just wide of the far post.
PSG continued to push for an equaliser after half time, but were unable to find a way past a stern Man City backline.
And in the 63rd minute, the Cityzens all but confirmed their place in the final with a beautiful counter-attacking move. De Bruyne fed Phil Foden, whose low cross found an unmarked Mahrez at the back post. The Algerian tapped in for his second of the night.
If the tie wasn’t over by then, it certainly was in the 69th minute when the away side were reduced to ten men. Di Maria petulantly kicked out at Fernandinho and was given a red card.
In the final 20 minutes, several PSG players lost their heads. Marco Verratti, Presnel Kimpembe, and Danilo Pereira all received bookings, and it could have been worse.
Foden twice came close to putting the icing on the cake for Man City, but was denied both times. The Englishman saw his low driven shot clip the outside of the far post, and had another effort kept out by Navas.
The game finished 2-0, ensuring that Pep Guardiola’s men won the tie 4-1 on aggregate. They will face Chelsea or Real Madrid in the final.
Man of the Match – Ruben Dias
About half of the Man City team could have been selected for this prize. Kyle Walker did an excellent job in keeping Neymar quiet, Fernandinho dominated things in midfield, De Bruyne was influential, Foden showcased his incredible talent, and Mahrez got the two crucial goals.
But Ruben Dias was tremendous at the heart of the defence once again. The objective for the home side was to keep things solid at the back, and he did exactly that.
The Portuguese had an answer for everything that was thrown at him. He produced blocks, headers, clearances, tackles – everything you’d want from your centre-back on a big night.
The 23-year-old has already proven himself to be a bargain, and is quickly becoming one of the best centre-backs in the world.
What next for PSG?
It may not seem obvious yet, but this could be a very damaging defeat for Les Parisiens.
Firstly, the Champions League may have been Mauricio Pochettino’s best chance at saving his job. He took over at a side who have dominated domestically over the last decade or so, and looks unlikely to win the league title. He could still lift the Coupe de France, but this is unlikely to satisfy the board.
However, despite their domestic success, PSG are still yet to win anything on the European stage. If Pochettino was the man to finally bring the Champions League to Paris, this would likely be enough to keep him in charge.
But, perhaps more importantly, it is possible that the futures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe depended on this competition.
The forwards are two of the world’s best and most valuable players, and both have been linked with moves away from Les Parc des Princes over the last few months. If they’re not winning major honours, it is difficult to see them sticking around.
What will be more worrying for PSG is the fact that both Neymar and Mbappe are out of contract in 2022. They may opt to sell them both this summer in order to avoid the risk of losing about €400 million worth of talent for free.