Manchester City defeated Paris Saint-Germain in Parc des Prince
Manchester City faced Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. The match was held at PSG’s home ground at Parc des Prince. The match was highly rated by fans and pundits and was expected to be an explosive encounter. It did fulfill that expectation, in a way. PSG started the match with Marquinhos and Kimpembe in central defense while Florenzi and Bakker prowled the full-back positions. In mid-field, Idrissa Gueye and Leonardo Paredes started in the defensive midfield position while Neymar started in the No. 10 roles. Kylian Mbappe was in the front for PSG being flanked by Angel Di Maria and Verratti in the right and left-wing respectively. Manchester City started with Ruben Dias and John Stones in central defense while Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo started in the fullback positions. Rodrigo, Ilkay Gundogan, and Bernardo Silva started in midfield while Kevin De Bruyne started in front flanked by Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. Keylor Navas started in goal for PSG while Ederson started for City.
The game was sharply divided into two halves. Manchester City started the first half brightly controlling the ball possession with short, simple passes. But within 10 minutes, the reins of the match were taken up by PSG with their continuous intelligent ways of taking the ball away in dangerous positions. These made City nervous and their level of ball control dropped to a certain extent. PSG made some glorious opportunities in this time, with Neymar having the match’s first shot easily saved by Ederson. Di Maria and Neymar were continuously making probing runs into the Citizens’ defense and troubling the likes of Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo. The nifty movements by Kylian Mbappe into the defensive third of City were becoming quite hazardous constantly.
This PSG pressure paid off when Marquinhos scored from a corner kick. Di Maria put the ball excellently in the penalty box and Marquinhos evaded Gundogan with an intelligent maneuver. PSG’s goal in the 15th minute was followed by more pressure on City defense. City played patiently but couldn’t make any clear-cut opportunities. They started to play with some confidence again in the last period of the first half. City’s press forced some errors in PSG defense twice but PSG managed the situations well enough. Phil Foden had the sole strike on target in the first half for City but shot straight in the hands of Navas. In the second half, City came out strong and displayed some of the excellent football of this season to starve the PSG front line of any service from the back and midfield. PSG increasingly became pinned back in their own half. Ultimately, Kevin De Bruyne equalized in the 64th minute with an assist from Zinchenko, who came in for misfiring Joao Cancelo after the break. De Bruyne gave a cross and Navas expected John Stones to get a touch on the ball in an attempt to score. As it happened, the ball spinned unexpectedly on the wet field and went into the back of the net. Ultimately Riyadh Mahrez scored the winner for City. City won a free-kick near PSG’s penalty box and PSG expected De Bruyne to take it. But Riyadh Mahrez stepped up and shot the ball ‘through’ the PSG wall into the back of the net in the 71st minute of the match. Now, PSG became nervous in possession. Idissa Gueye of PSG was shown a red card after a very reckless and completely unnecessary challenge on Gundogan. City saw the match out comfortably.