Manchester City came from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
First leg ✅
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 28, 2021
Pep Guardiola’s side fought their way through a scintillating early PSG surge when they fell behind to Marquinhos’ header, glanced in from Angel di Maria’s corner after 15 minutes, to dominate after the break and turn this first leg tie in Paris on its head.
City, who had threatened before the break when Phil Foden missed a great chance, were much more positive and got the reward they deserved after 64 minutes when Kevin de Bruyne’s menacing cross evaded everyone in the penalty area and drifted beyond motionless PSG keeper Kaylor Navas.
PSG could have scored plenty in a brilliant and breathless opening 45, and they did carry a lead into half-time thanks to a glancing Marquinhos header from Angel di Maria’s devilishly whipped corner.
Neymar, Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe were causing City’s defence no end of headaches, while an aggressive pressing game was seeing Mauricio Pochettino’s side controlling the centre of the park.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team were in control at half-time. They were a goal ahead, and a better side. The few chances Manchester City had created mostly came from errors by the home team, so it wasn’t perfect; but it was pretty darn good.
Ruben Dias and John Stones were prominent as City held firm in the first half, while after the break, as they showed greater ambition, Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker carried real attacking threat, and the visitors played with enormous maturity as they pinned PSG back in their own half.
In the 71st minute, the English side went ahead on Mahrez’s free kick from 26 yards. The right side of PSG’s wall — Paredes and Presnel Kimpembe — parted just enough for the belly-high bid to fly by and crash into the left side of the net.
Navas had no chance. This goal fell on his teammates. When the ball bounced back to him, Navas punched it into the turf.
City hunted for more. PSG’s collapse continued in the 77th minute when Idrissa Gueye received a red card for a late and reckless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
PSG was lost, allowing the visitors to press for another goal. Two away goals and a 2-1 lead leaves City ahead in the tie, with the teams scheduled to meet for the second leg in Manchester next Tuesday.
“If we play shy and not who we are, anything can happen and PSG has the quality to turn it around,” Guardiola said. “If we play who we are, maybe we have the chance to reach the final.”
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino to BT Sport: “There were two different halves, we did well in the first half but it is difficult to eliminate a team like City. We deserved to be ahead but they were better than us and dominated the second half. The two goals were accidents, but they created more than us. It was one half for each team.
“The two goals are very disappointing. It is difficult to accept but that can happen, and it has happened in a semi-final. It is very painful.
“It is difficult to explain why they were better but we were better in the first half. It was difficult to cope, their physical condition, they were more aggressive. We didn’t show the energy you need. The red card could be yellow, could be red, it was an action.
“The second leg, in football you need to believe. They have the advantage.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to BT Sport: “We started really well. We felt pressure after conceding. Sometimes we have to do more touches. A lot of people, it was the first time in the semi-finals and wanted to do it well. The last 10 minutes was good. In the second half we were excellent in every department. Two away goals. We have a hard job in six days.
“Sometimes you need to be more relaxed and be ourselves. The first half is normal – 180 minutes, you don’t want to lose the ball, you don’t play free. We changed a little in the way we press. We were passive [earlier on]. Then we were more aggressive. It’s not easy against Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria.
Afterwards we found goals and could have scored another. I’m so satisfied with the performance but we’re only halfway. There are 90 more minutes. PSG are a team, anything can happen.
“We didn’t have the good possession in right positions. That sometimes is normal. This club don’t have much experience in the semi-finals of this tournament. This will help us. In the second half we were aggressive and played really good.
“Against Dortmund, we conceded and came back. Today the same. Be ourselves in the second half. We are good playing in a certain way – we can’t do a different way.”