May 8, 2021

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Manchester City crushes Paris Saint-Germain and reach the Champions League final



Manchester City player Riyad Mahrez celebrates after scoring the second goal for his team.
Image Credit: AP

MANCHESTER: Manchester City reached the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history, as Riyad Mahrez defeated Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday to clinch a 4–1 aggregate victory.

Mahrez’s goal also clinched the first leg and the Algerian, who grew up in the Parisian suburbs, kicked his hometown team again with two bed ends early in each half.

The final in Istanbul on May 29 against Real Madrid or Chelsea is the culmination of City’s rise since Abu Dhabi in 2008 acquired the club’s fortunes.

Meanwhile, four years after Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were made the most expensive players in the world, Paris Saint-Germain continues to wait to win their first Champions League title.

Mbappe was only able to watch from the stands due to a calf injury, just like in the first leg last week, his team collapsed after an excellent first-half performance.

The visitors were left to regret the tremendous opportunities Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria squandered between Mahrez’s two goals before he slammed Di Maria at Fernandinho and left Paris Saint-Germain retreating to 10 players in the last 20 minutes.

City will clinch the Premier League title for the fifth time in the past ten years in the coming days, as it remains on its way to a hat-trick, having already won the League Cup.

But it took until their tenth consecutive season in the Champions League for Sheikh Mansour to be rewarded by playing in the biggest club football match.

City coach Pep Guardiola has won the Champions League twice before as coach during his time at Barcelona.

However, the Catalans have also suffered a decade of pain in their first club competition in Europe since then.

Guardiola has lost four times in the semi-finals with Barcelona and Bayern Munich since he last lifted the trophy in 2011 at the head of three quarter-final exits with City in the past three seasons.

In many of those relationships, minute details and controversial decisions went against Guardiola’s men despite their control of the match.

This time it was a reversal of the role as City had to endure a barrage of PSG before the break.

The French champions thought they had an early penalty to return to the match when Oleksandr Zinchenko was penalized for handball.

However, Dutch referee Björn Kuipers rightfully reversed his initial decision of seeing a replay bounce off the Ukrainian’s shoulder.

Zinchenko came on strong again when he reached the opening goal in the other end.

Race for City goalkeeper Ederson’s long, thunderous pass into the Paris Saint-Germain district. Zenchenko’s defense found Kevin de Bruyne and after the Belgian’s shot was blocked, Mahrez swooped in to hit the net with his weaker right foot.

The showdown was far from over as Paris Saint-Germain made City comeback and should have been at least on the same level as the night before the break.

Marquinhos used to score big goals in the Champions League and the Brazilian was inches away from the other when he bounced a twisted header off the bar.

Ederson then nearly backed out of his good deed when Di Maria intercepted his quick throw at Bernardo Silva and fired an inch long shot with the Brazilian goalkeeper stranded outside his own goal.

Neymar is annulled

Mauricio Pochettino will wonder what it would have been if Mbappe had been fit with the ineffectiveness of his replacement Icardi.

Neymar only showed flashes of brilliance with City’s great defense led by Robin Dias who is able to focus on stopping the Brazilian without worrying about Mbappe.

City have kept 31 clean sheets this season, in marked contrast to the defensive weakness that had cost them earlier in this competition.

Guardiola’s men always showed enough quality to go forward, and a clinical counterattack ended the match in the 63rd minute.

De Bruyne freed Phil Foden from the left flank and Mahrez fired a superb cross pass over Keylor Navas by Mahrez.

In a repeat of the first leg, PSG’s discipline went with his hopes of reaching the final.

Di Maria unnecessarily printed Fernandinho to receive a red card right before Marco Verratti was lucky to escape seeing a second yellow.

Foden collided with the post as City threatened riots in the final stages.

But they did enough to make history.