Match Coverage

City 1-0 PSG (agg 3-2): match report and goals

We are not, we’re not really here. Except we are. We’re really here. We’re here in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

And against all odds, too. Against the word of myself who predicted a second Norman conquest, against the word of a handful of French journalists who predicted quite arrogantly that the Ligue 1 bullies would add City to their list of victims, and against the word of Paris Saint Germain manager Laurent Blanc who was relieved to avoid “ogres” Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But sat sniggering in his swamp three weeks ago was Manuel Pellegrini, carefully plotting PSG’s demise.

In truth, though, the French champions must shoulder a sizable chunk of the blame. Equipped with a £140m forward three – Zlatan Ibrahimović, Edinson Cavani and Ángel Di María – supposedly chock-a-block with ability, the fact that PSG’s two best chances came from free-kicks yesterday must humiliate Blanc. Not that this man, ex-Manchester United might I add, is afraid of humiliating himself. After the game the Frenchman remarked that City will be “guests” in this year’s semi-final draw, but if City are guests, then his side would have fit in as smoothly as Raoul Moat in Buckingham Palace on last night’s evidence. We may well be unfamiliar with this stage of the competition, but I expect us to be as courteous as the Mad Hatter on any visit to either Spain or Germany.

So we turn to the performance in last night’s 1-0 win and 3-2 aggregate victory. If Kevin De Bruyne was a pop star he’d be Enrique Iglesias because he was certainly our hero, baby, last night. The Belgian’s 76th minute whip into the bottom right hand corner was just another example of De Bruyne doing what needed to be done. As we fannied about outside the 18-yard-box in an incredibly irritating game of ‘you have it, no you have it’, Kevin said “f*** it” and shot. It’s about taking your chances at this level and Kevin always seems to do just that. He also won my mate £100 on a free bet, so cheers, I could be in for a free pint there.

Heroic as De Bruyne was, Fernandinho was the man for me. How good has he been for us this season? The man was everywhere on Tuesday night, with an interception here and a tackle there – here, there, everywhere, everywhere a Ferna – the Brazilian was instrumental in bridging the midfield and attack and breaking down Paris’s play in the middle of the park. Fernandinho has been said to enjoy the odd meal at Bem Brasil when he diverts from his regular diet of petrol.

And a word on a couple of unsung heros, too – the Cadbury Eclairs of the box. Firstly, Fernando. There was a point last season where I would have happily worked, unpaid, picking fluff from between the toes of Katie Hopkins for a year if it meant Fernando would be sold. Today, I sit here on my laptop entertaining the thought of peppering my bedroom wall with posters of him. Fernando has been so important for us this season – he made three interceptions, four clearances and seven blocks for us last night – and fully deserves the praise that is now coming his way. Fair play Fernando, mate, you’re proving us all wrong.

The second fella is Jesús Navas who is such a crucial player in these types of games. Navas has his flaws when it comes to providing the final ball, but his ability to patrol the flank and his willingness to track back, ensuring his full-back is protected, is unrivaled in this squad. Together with Sagna, Navas subjected Di María to his second robbery in Manchester. This time, it was of his pride.

Manuel went with the same side that earned us a decent 2-2 draw in Paris one week ago with Yaya Touré taking up a place on the bench. Marco Verratti had trained for the visitors, but was deemed unfit to play as Rabiot, Motta and Marquinhos made up a midfield three. Missing the young Italian and the energy of Blaise Matuidi, Paris struggled to threaten us.

There was a half chance for the guests when Ibrahimović stung the palms of Hart with a ferocious free-kick from 25 yards. De Bruyne, Agüero and Silva, though – a threesome perhaps even more capable of getting the heart racing than one made up by Jessica Alba, Mila Kunis and Nicola Peltz – looked menacing on the break and were combining emphatically in the final third. Minutes after he had fired wide after being put through by De Bruyne, Agüero was brought down by the standing leg of Trapp and we had a penalty. Agüero slapped the ball wide and a large block of inevitability came crashing on top of my head. Here we go, we all said to ourselves.

But not De Bruyne. Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore perhaps armed Blanc’s men with a little more going forward, but only offside goals. As PSG pressed, De Bruyne decided enough was enough, ending the tie with a delicious finish from the edge of the box. Cue delirium in our biggest ever Champions League crowd. It was going off.

So here we are, two games away from a Champions League final. With Vincent Kompany set to return to a now fully fit squad in the very near future, is it possible that Manchester City could go all the way?

“Of course,” said Manuel when asked the same question after the game. And we’ve got no reason to argue with him.

Goals:
1-0

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