Three things we learned from PSG - Man City
Riyad Mahrez’s sizzling second-half free kick went between two leaping members of Paris Saint-Germain’s wall to complete Man City’s 2-1 comeback win in a UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
City led 2-1 when PSG’s Idrissa Gana Gueye was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Ilkay Gundogan, but City failed to find its third goal.
Kevin De Bruyne’s cross into the dreaded corridor of uncertainty gave Man City its away goal after PSG controlled the first half and took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Marquinhos’ 15th-minute header off a corner kick had given PSG a halftime lead, but Mauricio Pochettino got it all wrong with a tepid second-half plan and Pep Guardiola had as good a handle as he could on Kylian Mbappe and Neymar over 90 minutes. Both PSG stars had their moments and Neymar was particularly bright but the ball found the Brazilian in less-than-dangerous places.
City leveled the score when De Bruyne spun a hopeful cross toward a line of PSG defenders and Man City attackers. No one touched it, including the keeper, as the ball curled inside the far post.
The second leg is Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Three things we learned from PSG - Man City
1. Well-designed set piece gives Parisiens advantage: Leandro Paredes was among the PSG men walling off Man City’s defenders and Marquinhos lost Ilkay Gundogan to nod home a perfect Angel Di Maria corner kick. Ruben Dias was trying to get through Paredes to get the ball but it would’ve taken a superhuman effort or maybe even a foul. This was just well-executed football, and City was down. The same play nearlyy worked in the 27th-minute, but Di Maria’s corner was a bit too pacey for the near-post run.
2. Pochettino plays it safe, pays big time: PSG straight-up gave Man CIty possession early in the second half. Say what you will about what a 1-0 lead could mean after ione leg, but relegating Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Angel Di Maria to counterattackers is risky if not a terrible waste of footballing talent. That plan is made even more risky -- hindsight being 20/20 -- by the knowledge that City is plenty experienced at breaking down banks of defenders and the fact that PSG isn’t a defensive powerhouse in its own right.
3. Idrissa Gana Gueye’s moment of madness goes unpunished: City was up 2-1 when ex-Everton star Gana went studs up into the achilles of Ilkay Gundogan, earning a deserved straight-red with 17 minutes left in Paris. Try as it might, City could not find the third away goal that would guarantee PSG’s need to be borderline-reckless in Manchester.
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne
Kyle Walker was a force for City but it’s still De Bruyne. Of course it is. You could even make the argument that Navas couldn’t afford to completely bet on his wall given KDB being the “other” option when Mahrez fired through it for 2-1.
PSG - Man City recap
It was all PSG to start, and Marquinhos goal snapped the visitors to life.
Bernardo Silva nearly put City on level terms with a gymnast’s move at the back post that Keylor Navas did well to turn into a corner.
Both teams did most of their threatening via set pieces, with a rare open play opportunity caused by a Keylor Navas error in the 33rd minute but handled by PSG.
Chances were going to arrive given City’s quality, and Navas made a solid save when Phil Foden fired a hard 17-yard shot on goal in the 43rd.
PSG was prepared to counter in the second half, but Ederson proved well-suited to deal with that threat on multiple occasions.
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De Bruyne stung an overhead kick over the bar in the 61st minute, and PSG was 2/3 of the way to a first-leg advantage.
Kyle Walker may have been City’s best player, and his square pass into the six was not met by De Bruyne who opted for another run.
De Bruyne got the goal when his lofted cross was missed by defenders and attackers alike, curling inside the far post and past a Navas who was expecting a redirection. None arrived. 1-1.
Mahrez’s free kick goal was smashed to a ball-sized window between leaping Paredes and Presnel Kimpembe to make it 2-1 in the 74th minute.
Three minutes later, Gana was off.
Mahrez and Foden each came close to making it 3-1, but City wouldn’t find its third goal and had to deal with an 89th-minute threat from PSG.