Riyad Mahrez’s brace leads Man City to first-ever UCL Final

Tuesday evening at Etihad Stadium, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain met in leg 2 of their Champions League semifinal series. In the first leg at Paris, Man City overcame an early goal from PSG centre-back Marquinhos and scored two goals in eight minutes in the second half to score two crucial away goals, courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, leaving Paris with a road victory.

PSG played the entire second leg without superstar Kylian Mbappe, who was blanked by the Man City defense in leg 1, was forced to sit on the bench due to a lack of fitness. His absence was more than noticeable as in the first half, PSG struggled to get good chances inside the box and their striker, Mauro Icardi, barely touched the ball. Their two best chances were a Marquinhos header that hit the top of the crossbar and winger Angel Di Maria missed an open net opportunity as his shot bended just wide a few minutes later.

For Man City, who came into the match looking to secure their first-ever Champions League Final appearance, gave themselves plenty of opportunities to stretch their 2-1 lead. In the 11th minute, Ederson’s incredible knack for setting up counterattacks shined once again as he launched a perfect pass, which Oleksandr Zinchenko easily controlled and set up De Bruyne with a shot opportunity. While the shot was blocked, Mahrez put away the rebound to give Man City a 3-1 lead on aggregate, which they held heading into the halftime break.

The second half saw PSG push to get on the scoreboard, but fell victim to Man City’s deadly counterattack as in the 63rd minute, De Bruyne and Phil Foden pushed through PSG’s defense, then Foden set up Mahrez with a brilliant through-pass on the right post. Mahrez smashed the shot past PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas and increased Man City’s lead 4-1 on aggregate.

A few minutes later, Di Maria was sent off with a red car for stomping the feet of Fernandinho. After the red card, the Man City backline prevented any real chances from PSG, securing the 4-1 win. Man City, after years of failure in the Champions League knockout round under manager Pep Guardiola, finally made it to their first Champions League Final in club history. Their vastly improved backline, anchored by Ederson and centre-back Ruben Dias, proved to be the difference as Man City should be the favorites in the Final in Istanbul in three-and-a-half weeks.

As for PSG, their attack which blitzed elite clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, could not crack through Man City’s backline and get into a rhythm that everyone is accustomed to seeing from the club. Mbappe was a non-factor in this series and PSG could not overcome it. Neymar and Mbappe will have to wait another year for a chance at PSG’s first Champions League trophy after falling short in the Final last season (1-0 loss to Bayern Munich).

Man City will face the winner of the Chelsea-Real Madrid semifinal series in the Champions League Final on May 29.

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