Belfast Telegraph

Man City boss Pellegrini purring as his side enjoy Paris in springtime

Paris St Germain 2-2 Manchester City

By Mark Ogden

Manchester City have hired the world's most sought-after coach to lead the club to Champions League glory, but after a remarkable night in Paris, Manuel Pellegrini edged closer to beating Pep Guardiola to the club's Holy Grail as Fernandinho put the club in control of their quarter-final destiny against Paris Saint-Germain.

Finding themselves 2-1 down having been 1-0 up, City overcame self-inflicted calamity by capitalising on PSG's own sloppiness to emerge with two crucial away goals.

Fernandinho's equaliser, after a mix-up between Serge Aurier and Thiago Silva, cancelled out Adrien Rabiot's goal which had given PSG the lead. But with City now needing to avoid defeat or a high-scoring draw at the Etihad next Tuesday to reach the last four, the prospect of progressing all the way to the final in Milan is now not so fanciful.

City, missing the injured Vincent Kompany and Yaya Touré, arrived at the Parc des Princes fully aware Laurent Blanc's team had only lost once on home turf since being beaten by Barcelona in last season's quarter-final. But Pellegrini's players began the game on the front foot, so much so that David Luiz was booked after just 12 seconds for tugging Sergio Aguero to the ground outside the penalty area.

Aguero's run highlighted City's belief and determination not to be cowed by PSG and it was followed two minutes later by a Kevin De Bruyne shot which flew narrowly over the crossbar.

PSG were unsettled by City's approach, which included the incessant targeting of the vulnerable Maxwell at left-back, and the French champions found themselves struggling to adjust to being pressed back in front of their own fans.

But after the referee Milorad Mazic had rejected penalty appeals for an Eliaquim Mangala shove on Blaise Matuidi, the home side were given the chance to score from the spot after Luiz was fouled by Bacary Sagna.

Not for the first time, though, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was denied by Joe Hart, who dived low to his right to save.

Ibrahimovic then spurned two further clear chances to score before De Bruyne put City ahead with a goal on the counter-attack.

The Belgian, arguably City's best player this season despite missing several weeks with injury, found space inside the PSG area before latching on to Fernandinho's pass. De Bruyne took one touch to control before firing a right-foot strike past the exposed Kevin Trapp.

But City's good work was horribly undone three minutes later when Ibrahimovic made up for his hat-trick of misses by scoring fortuitously on the back of Fernando's disastrous lapse of concentration.

The Brazilian midfielder inexplicably dawdled in possession on the edge of the penalty area after Hart played a short goal kick and, as Fernando turned towards Ibrahimovic, the ball bounced off the PSG forward's shins and past the City keeper from 18 yards.

Fernando was not helped by Hart, who should have been alert to the danger as he passed the ball to his team-mate, but nonetheless, the City player was naïve to deal with the situation as he did.

Still, De Bruyne's goal gave City a foothold in the tie before next Tuesday's second leg and they should have scored another early in the second half when David Silva created a shooting chance, only to aim a tame right-foot effort into Trapp's body. It was a near miss which stirred PSG back into life, with Maxwell's dangerous cross almost being diverted into his own net by Mangala.

Edinson Cavani then forced a save from Hart before Rabiot netted PSG's second by scoring from the rebound after Hart had kept out Cavani's header from Angel di Maria's corner.

Ibrahimovic then headed against the bar and Cavani fired over from close range, but City withstood the barrage and then hauled themselves level when Fernandinho scored 17 minutes from time.

PSG: Trapp, Aurier (van der Wiel, 78 mins), Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Maxwell, Rabiot (Lucas Moura, 78 mins), Motta, Matuidi, Di María, Ibrahimovic, Cavani. Unused subs: Sirigu, Stambouli, Marquinhos, Kurzawa, Augustin.

MAN CITY: Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva (Bony, 88 mins), De Bruyne (Delph, 71 mins), Aguero (Kolarov, 90 mins). Unused subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Iheanacho

Man of the match: Fernandinho

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia)

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph