City stage superb fightback to stun Paris-Saint Germain
Second half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez saw City fight back from behind to clinch a superb Champions League semi-final first leg triumph at Paris Saint-Germain.
Trailing at the break to a first-half Marquinhos header, Pep Guardiola’s side staged a stunning turnaround after the break at the Parc des Princes.
Having first drawn level through skipper De Bruyne’s 64th minute cross-cum shot, City then took an all-important lead thanks to Mahrez’s 71st minute free-kick.
On a night of high drama the hosts were then reduced to 10 men when Idrissa Guye was sent off for a blatant foul on Ilkay Gundogan.
And City deservedly held firm to seal a famous and crucial victory - one of the finest in our European history - to put us in great heart ahead of next Tuesday’s decisive second leg.
The mutual respect between the sides that was evident in the build-up was mirrored in an absorbing encounter featuring football of the highest quality.
It was PSG offered an early sign of their potent threat on the counter when City lost possession and a quicksilver attack ended with Kylian Mbappe feeding Neymar who drilled in a low shot straight at Ederson.
The Brazilian keeper then had to be alert again to deny compatriot Neymar once more after some dazzling footwork from the striker opened up a fraction of space in the box before he fired in a snap-shot.
The danger signs were there with the hosts denying City time and space – and it was PSG who drew first blood on 16 minutes.
Angel Di Maria whipped in a vicious inswing corner and Marquinhos timed his run to perfection to guide home a powerful header into the bottom corner of the net that gave Ederson no chance.
It was a test of character for Guardiola’s side but City almost conjured up a spectacular instant riposte.
A pin-point 45-yard cross ball from Joao Cancelo found the advancing Bernardo charging in at the far post and PSG ‘keeper Keylor Navas needed to be alert to keep the effort out at the near post.
In what was a compelling end-to-end encounter, PSG’s set-piece delivery was a menacing outlet and Parades sent another header a fraction wide from Neymar’s corner.
Stones earned his corn with a vital block to halt Bakker as PSG summoned up another lightning counter before Mahrez followed suit, timing a defensive touch to perfection to halt Neymar as he shaped to shoot from five yards before City conjured up our best chance two minutes before the break.
Having harried Paris into a defensive error, Bernardo seized possession and zipped a pass across to the unmarked Phil Foden in the centre of the box but the England man’s shot was straight at Navas.
As so often, the half time message from the boss proved revelatory.
There was an extra spring and intensity to City’s work after the restart with Guardiola’s men constantly probing and asking more questions of the hosts and dominating possession.
And a piece of De Bruyne magic almost brought us level on the hour, the skipper’s spectacular overhead kick whistling a fraction over the target.
Another brilliant City counter saw Kyle Walker power 60 yards up field and feed an inviting cross but no-one was there to finish.
But the all-important goal we sought and merited finally arrived on 65 minutes – and as so often it was the skipper who delivered.
Receiving the ball from a short corner De Bruyne launched a hopeful 25 yard ball into the box and Navas fatally hesitated waiting for a touch that never came, the ball instead curing into the corner of the net.
It was a huge moment both on the night and in context of the overall tie.
And a promising night suddenly got even better on 70 minutes as Mahrez fired us ahead from a free-kick.
The Algerian exploited a gap in the PSG defensive wall and sailed past Navas to give us a precious lead.
It was no less than we deserved and with PSG losing their heads, Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Gundogan.
A great night could have got even better with Mahrez, Foden and De Bruyne all coming close to extending our advantage.
But it was a wonderful night and one of City's great European displays.
TASTE FOR TRAVEL
City have now won each of our last 18 away games across all competitions.
It’s a remarkable stat and one that illustrates the sheer quality and consistency of Guardiola’s squad.
This one though felt the biggest of the lot!
WHAT IT MEANS
Thanks to those vital second half strikes, it’s advantage City ahead of next Tuesday’s second leg decider at the Etihad.
It means the pressure and onus will be on the visitors with City knowing we are in the driving seat as we seek to book our final ticket.
But there is still work to do given PSG's quality
City return to domestic duty on Saturday when we travel to Crystal Palace for another vital Premier League clash.
Ten points clear at the top of the table with five matches remaining, kick-off at Selhurst Park is at 12.30pm and a victory would see Pep Guardiola’s side take a huge step towards regaining the title.
Indeed, if we were to win and Manchester United then lose at home to Liverpool on Sunday, City would be crowned champions for the third time in four seasons.
PSG (1): Keylor Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Verratti, Gueye, Paredes (Ander Herrera, 82’); Di María (Danilo, 79’), Neymar, Mbappé
Manchester City (2): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Rúben Dias, Cancelo (Zinchenko, 61’); Rodri, De Bruyne, Gündogan; Mahrez, Foden, Bernardo Silva
Goals: 1-0, Marquinhos (15’), 1-1, De Bruyne (64’), 1-2, Mahrez (71’)
Referee: Felix Brych. Amonestados: Cancelo (30’), Paredes (69’), Neymar (74’), De Bruyne (86’). Expulsado: Gueye (77’)