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Manchester City 2-0 Paris Saint-Germain: 5 Hits and Flops as Riyad Mahrez fires Cityzens to first European final | UEFA Champions League 2020/21

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Sai Teja

It was a historic night of football at the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City outclassed Paris Saint-Germain and won 2-0 (4-1 on aggregate) to reach their first-ever UEFA Champions League final.

Despite the Cityzens' win in the French capital last week, the tie was far from over as PSG lost just one game away from the Parc des Princes in the last six months heading into the fixture. The game at the Etihad was a different story altogether, however, as Guardiola's men assumed control right from the get-go.

The Catalan is infamously known for tinkering with his teams for knockout games as big as this, leading to unceremonious exits in the past with Manchester City as well as Bayern Munich. Guardiola got his set-up spot on as he limited PSG's attacking threat while managing to hurt them on the counter as well at every opportunity.

Riyad Mahrez carried his fine form into the knockout stages as he came up clutch with a couple of well-taken goals on either side of half-time to finish off two stunning team moves from Manchester City. However, they impressed even more on the defensive front as the Premier League leaders didn't allow Mauricio Pochettino's men to even have a single shot on target.

When out of possession, they tucked into a 4-4-2 with Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez putting in excellent shifts on the flanks and Kevin De Bruyne leading the line with Bernardo Silva.

City defended valiantly and were devastating on the counter. PSG sorely missed Kylian Mbappe's presence up front, but his injury cannot undermine the job carried out by the hosts on the night.

PSG eventually lost their nerve and began lashing out at City in frustration, with Angel Di Maria seeing red as well as a few others including Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe being booked.

Guardiola's side were in complete control throughout the game and deservedly went through to the final. The former Barcelona manager has won both UCL finals he's managed so far, and will hope to make it three when he comes up against either Chelsea or Real Madrid in the final at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

Here are five hits and flops from the game.


Hit — Phil Foden | Manchester City

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two

Manchester City's boy wonder Phil Foden was at it once again at the Etihad and played a crucial role in their win. After a relatively quiet first half during which he helped his full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko defensively, Foden found a few more gears in the second half.

Alessandro Florenzi was often left chasing dust in his wake as Foden constantly managed to get past him on the left-hand side. The 20-year-old's jinking run in the second half — which brought his phenomenal dribbling, close control, and spatial awareness to the fore — was one of the highlights of the game as he played a one-two with De Bruyne to set up Mahrez for the second goal.

Foden also came close to scoring with a beautiful, grounded effort from the edge of the area that beat Keylor Navas, but unfortunately watched the ball graze the post on its way out. He ended the game with three successful take-ons (out of four), won eight of 12 duels, two tackles, and one assist. The Englishman was unplayable and caused PSG's backline all sorts of problems.


Flop — Ander Herrera | Paris Saint-Germain

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two

After a memorable return to Manchester earlier in the season where PSG beat his former club, Manchester United, by a scoreline of 3-1, Ander Herrera is unlikely to look back on Tuesday's game fondly. The Spaniard had a horror showing in the middle for PSG, constantly throwing himself around trying to win fouls and arguing with players and officials alike.

His yellow card incident in the 21st minute went on to sum up his frustrating evening for Mauricio Pochettino's men. Herrera failed to provide any real threat on the offensive or defensive front and did not create anything of note whenever he had the ball. Barring one harmless shot earlier on in the game, which sailed over Ederson Moraes' goal, it was an extremely forgettable evening for Herrera.

The 31-year-old won just one of his five duels contested, failed to register a single chance or a tackle throughout his 61-minute stay on the pitch, and was constantly overrun in the middle by City's solid midfield. He could not help PSG get to grips with City's pressing and couldn't impose himself on the game. Herrera was the worst midfielder on the pitch across both sides.


Also read: 5 Players with most nutmegs in Europe this season (2020/21)

Hit — Ruben Dias | Manchester City

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two

Another big game, another colossal display from Ruben Dias in defence for Manchester City. The Portuguese star was a rock for Pep Guardiola's side across both legs and marshaled City's defence remarkably well. He shut down Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the first-leg and put up another massive display to help his side keep a clean sheet.

Dias flung himself at every incoming ball to come up with clutch blocks for his side time and again on the night. He wasn't dribbled past even once in the game and led the City defence well. His partner in defence, John Stones, had an excellent night as well as the pair neutralised PSG's attacking threat to a scary degree.

The 24-year-old's leadership and defensive organisation were also on full display on the night. Dias ended the game with three blocks, three recoveries, and four clearances — the highest for any player on the pitch. He put in a warrior's display as he was infallible against Neymar and co, and was fittingly awarded the Man of the Match.


Flop — Mauro Icardi | Paris Saint-Germain

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two

Irrespective of Manchester City's early opener in the second leg, Paris Saint-Germain needed two goals without reply to progress to the UCL final. This task was all the more difficult for the French champions as their centre-forward went missing. Watchers could be forgiven for not knowing that Mauro Icardi was on the pitch against Manchester City because the Argentine just didn't turn up for the game.

It's one thing if a footballer played poorly, a la Herrera, but a whole other story if someone just didn't appear like he was playing at all. Icardi was nowhere to be seen against Manchester City. No runs into the box, no clever movement to keep the centre-backs occupied and create space for his teammates, no shots, no goals, no take-ons, no chances, nothing.

Sure, he was up against the best defence in world football with the likes of Dias and Stones, but Icardi lacked any real vigour or urgency to make things happen for a player starting in a UCL semi-final. The former Inter captain ended the game with seven passes, 16 touches, and absolutely zero impact in the attacking third for PSG. A shambolic display from Icardi.


Hit — Riyad Mahrez | Manchester City

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two
Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two

On a night where many expected Neymar to step up and fire PSG into the final, it was his counterpart Riyad Mahrez who rose to the occasion and delivered for Manchester City.

The Algerian forward gave Guardiola's side an all-important winner at the Parc des Princes last week with a venomous strike from a free-kick, and he was arguably the best player on the pitch against PSG at the Etihad. Mahrez had a brilliant outing in every way, leading the counter-attack at every opportunity without forgoing his defensive responsibilities to keep PSG in check.

The 30-year-old dispatched the ball past Keylor Navas with his weaker foot to give his side the lead in the first half after Ederson's raking 60-yard pass into the final third. In the second half, with the attention on Foden and De Bruyne on the left, Mahrez ghosted into the box unmarked to meet the Englishman's cross and smashed the ball into the net for the second goal.

Mahrez ended the game with more take-ons completed than any player on the pitch (five of seven), most duels (21, won ten), won most fouls (four, with Neymar), and most shots on target (three).

Most importantly, he scored the two goals that sealed City's place in their first-ever UCL final. Only Robert Lewandowski (v Real Madrid, 2013) and Alessandro Del Piero (v AS Monaco, 1998) have scored more in a single UCL semi-final tie than Mahrez's three.


Also read: 5 Players who could replace Fernandinho at Manchester City

Edited by Sai Teja

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