Riyad Mahrez Fires Manchester City Into Champions League Final
Manchester City reached the Champions League final for the first time in its history after Riyad Mahrez’s double secured a 2-0 victory (4-1 on aggregate) against 10-man Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Etihad Stadium.
Kevin De Bruyne started up front as the false striker with Phil Foden and Algerian Riyad Mahrez supporting on the wings. Neymar started for PSG, while star striker Kylian Mbappe could only make the bench after passing a late fitness test.
PSG were awarded a penalty after Oleksandr Zinchenko appeared to handle the ball, however, the referee overturned the decision. City then took the lead in the 11th minute after De Bruyne’s blocked shot was tapped in by Mahrez who beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas from a tight angle.
PSG then threw men forward as they pushed to get back into the game and they went close on two occasions as Marquinhos’ looped header clipped the crossbar. Angel Di Maria then shot wide of an open goal after Bernardo Silva was dispossessed following Ederson’s poor roll out.
PSG continued to press but there was no way through City’s stubborn defence as the score was 1-0 to City at half-time. After the break, PSG continued where they left off attacking the City defence. However, Guardiola’s men defended superbly, blocking goal-bound chances from Neymar and Ander Herrera .
In the 63rd minute, City caught PSG on the counter-attack as Foden exchanged passes with De Bruyne before sending a low ball into the area for Mahrez to convert at the far post, making it 2-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.
It was a fatal blow for the French side and their frustrations showed as Angel Di Maria was sent off for a kick out on Fernandinho as he went to retrieve the ball for a throw-in.
City could have scored more as the impressive Foden hit the post and saw another late strike saved by Navas as City won the match 2-0 ( 4-1 on aggregate) to cap off a famous victory at the Etihad.
⏰ RESULT ⏰
🔵 Manchester City reach their first ever Champions League final!
👏 @ManCity become 42nd club to reach the European Cup showpiece
⚽️ Mahrez strikes in either half for hosts
🤔 Who impressed you most?#UCL
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 4, 2021
Pep Guardiola, who reaches the Champions League final for the first time since he won the competition with Barcelona in 2011, will now lead his side against either Chelsea or Real Madrid in the final in Istanbul on Saturday, May 29.
“It is for all of us and the club. I’m incredibly proud and my first thoughts are with the players who didn’t play today,” Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said. “They all deserved to play, everyone has made a contribution and now it is time to enjoy it.”
“We have to win the league and we have two or three weeks to prepare for the final. They put a lot of players in the middle and we struggled in the first half to high press and we changed at half-time. We recovered the ball better in the second half and we were much better in the way we played.”
“4-1 on aggregate against a team that beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich, it means a lot to us. They win the league every year, they are a team built to win, they fought to the end. They are a huge team but we were so, so composed,” Guardiola added.
We fought together and we’re in the final of the Champions league.”
This year’s UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on Saturday, May 29.
Manchester City could add the Premier League title to the Carabao Cup they won last month with victory against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as they bid to complete a treble.