Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s first-ever Champions League final prepared for five years after Riyad Mahrez’s brace sealed Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday to seal a 4- overall victory. 1 in the semi-final. City will be looking to seal a third Premier League title in the past four seasons in the coming days as they remain on track for a hat-trick, having already won the League Cup. But their previous four Champions League campaigns under Guardiola have ended in angst ahead of the semi-final. Guardiola has already won the competition twice as a coach during his time at Barcelona.
However, the Catalan has also suffered a decade of disappointment in Europe’s first club competition since.
“It’s for all of us and for the club. I’m incredibly proud,” Guardiola said. “Getting to the final now makes sense of what we’ve been doing for the last four or five years. Every day these guys have been consistent and it’s remarkable.”
Mahrez’s goal also decided the first leg and the Algerian, who grew up in the Paris suburbs, once again haunted his hometown team with two clinical finishes at the start of each half.
The final in Istanbul on May 29 against Real Madrid or Chelsea is the culmination of City’s rise since a 2008 takeover of Abu Dhabi transformed the club’s fortunes.
Meanwhile, four years after making Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the two most expensive players in the world, PSG’s wait for a first Champions League title continues.
Mbappe was only able to watch from the stands due to a calf injury as, just like in last week’s first leg, his side imploded after a great performance in the first half.
The visitors were left behind with huge missed opportunities by Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria between Mahrez’s strikes before Di Maria went after Fernandinho to leave PSG at 10 men for the final 20 minutes.
“We have started very well, creating chances and dominating Manchester City,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino. “It’s not easy. Few teams can dominate a team like Manchester City.”
However, the Argentine, who had to come onto the pitch to calm his players down after Di Maria saw red, admitted that his team’s indiscipline had cost them.
Idrissa Gueye was also sent off late in the first leg for a shocking challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
“In the 180 minutes, for 40 or 45 minutes, we played with 10 men,” added Pochettino. “It’s a huge advantage.”
The French champions thought they had an early penalty to return to the draw when Oleksandr Zinchenko was penalized for handball.
However, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers rightly went back on his initial decision when he saw a catch of the ball bounce off the Ukrainian’s shoulder.
Zinchenko was heavily involved again when the first goal came on the other end.
He ran over the long thunderous pass from City goalkeeper Ederson into the PSG zone. Zinchenko’s cut-back found Kevin De Bruyne and after the Belgian’s shot was blocked, Mahrez jumped home on his weaker right foot.
The tie was still far from over as PSG brought City back and should have been at least tied the night before halftime.
Marquinhos got used to scoring big Champions League goals and the Brazilian was inches apart when his looped header came back from the crossbar.
Ederson then nearly undo his good job as Di Maria intercepted his rushed shot at Bernardo Silva and threw a shot a few inches wide with the Brazilian keeper stuck in front of his goal.
– Neymar canceled –
Pochettino will wonder what could have been if Mbappe had been in good shape with his ineffective replacement Icardi.
Neymar has only shown flashes of his brilliance with City’s impressive defense led by Ruben Dias able to focus on stopping the Brazilian without Mbappe worrying.
Guardiola’s men have always shown enough quality going forward and a clinical counterattack killed the game in the 63rd minute.
De Bruyne freed Phil Foden on the left and his perfect cross was blasted in front of Keylor Navas by Mahrez.
In a repeat of the first leg, the discipline of PSG accompanied its hopes of reaching the final.
Di Maria unnecessarily stamped Fernandinho only to be shown a red card before Marco Verratti had a chance to escape seeing a second yellow.
“They lost their temper and started kicking us,” Mahrez said, rubbing salt into PSG wounds. “After the red card, it was good for us.”
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