Paris: Manchester City took a big step forward towards their first Champions League final as goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez earned them a 2-1 win at Paris St Germain in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
PSG went ahead thanks to a Marquinhos header in the first half, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost control after the break with De Bruyne and Mahrez finding the back of the net in the space of eight minutes to secure City’s 18th consecutive away victory in all competitions.
Last year’s PSG runner-up then found himself with a higher mountain to climb as midfielder Idrissa Gueye landed a red card in the 77th minute for a reckless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
“The second half was a lot better, the way the first goal came in was a bit lucky, but we played great football in the second half, we did well,” said De Bruyne.
Pochettino agreed the visitors were the better team after the interval.
“There were two different halves. In the first half, we did well. We created chances and earned the lead, but in the second half they were better than us, ”he said.
“Both goals were accidents, but they created more than us.” The French champions will have to show the same away form next Tuesday that saw them beat Barcelona at Camp Nou and Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the previous rounds to progress.
“At half-time I told the players that we had to be ourselves. We had to be more aggressive and we didn’t let them breathe after the break, ”said city manager Pep Guardiola.
City dominated early possession but PSG were the most dangerous side with Brazil striker Neymar twice testing City keeper Ederson.
Marquinhos, back in the squad after an injury sustained in the quarter-final first leg against Bayern, put the hosts in the lead when he brought back Angel Di Maria’s whipped corner in the 15th minute.
City, too cautious for fear of being punished at the break, were again exposed on a free kick when Leandro Paredes took Neymar’s turn right next to it.
Guardiola’s side lacked the usual coolness, with Joao Cancelo collecting a yellow card for a dismal challenge on Kylian Mbappe.
City’s first real chance came in the 42nd minute when Phil Foden, played on the pitch by Bernardo Silva, shot too close to PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
The visitors were more attacked in the second half and they equalized after 64 minutes when De Bruyne, on a pass from Oleksandr Zinchenko who had just replaced Cancelo, sent a cross and Navas did not react by curling up in the corner on the further away from the net.
Navas was beaten again seven minutes later when Mahrez’s free-kick cut through a fragile PSG wall and passed the helpless Navas.
Gueye’s sacking for a savage tackle on Gundogan has made it easier for City and they will take a big advantage in the Manchester second leg.