Manchester City eliminated Paris Saint-Germain (2-0) and qualified for the first Champions League final in its history, confirming in England their first leg victory (2-1).
Under the winter skies of northern England, the “Sky Blues” performed the match Parisians dreamed of crossing the Channel. By scoring on their first opportunity (11th) by the Algerian international, the players of Pep Guardiola imposed their tempo from the outset in this meeting, which they killed in the second half, after a surgical counter (63rd).
Realism, transition game, solidarity … The English displayed everything that was lacking in Paris, which for its part showed a nervousness unworthy of its rank of outgoing finalist. As on the first leg, Mauricio Pochettino’s men finished at ten, after the red card from Angel Di Maria (69th), for a voluntary sole on Fernandinho.
A very bad gesture which leaves a very bad image at this end of the course which, until then, was irreproachable, after the qualifications obtained at the expense of FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, defending champion. These successes had fueled the dreams of PSG and its Qatari owner, who had touched the much desired trophy last August. But on May 29 in Istanbul, it is the Emiratis, at the head of the English club, who will have the opportunity to become the first Gulf power to win the prestigious competition, against Real Madrid or Chelsea.
The absence of Kylian Mbappé, affected in the right calf, weighed heavily on a Parisian team which had so far always been able to count, this season, on its individualities to hide its collective failings. Neymar, who made C1 his priority, did not play for two, as he promised. The Brazilian missed his match, wanting to make too much difference on his own.
Under his crampons, a gulf has opened up. Paris missed its first goal, but by the end of the season, it is far from securing the second, or even the third. Replacing “Kyky” at kickoff, Mauro Icardi went through the match like a shadow, without ever having shot on goal, until his exit (62nd). Three days from the end of the French Championship, the Parisians are one point behind the leader Lille, which they hope for a misstep. In the Cup, they have a difficult semi-final in Montpellier in a week.
Their reaction to this elimination will determine the color of their balance sheet. Pochettino, eternal optimist, saw reason to remain vis-a-vis City. Certainly, the English exuded a serenity that contrasted with the nervousness of the Parisians. Yes, City have shown better collective control than PSG. But Neymar’s teammates had their chances and if they are eliminated, it is also because they did not know how to seize them.
Paris will ruminate on its lack of realism, when Di Maria pulls aside (19th), while the cage was wide open after a poor recovery from Mancun. Three minutes earlier, Marquinhos had found the crossbar on his head (16th). These wasted opportunities maintain the illusion that Paris was not far away. But that’s forgetting that City scored on their first opportunity …
Manchester made it easier with a quick goal from Riyad Mahrez (11th), at the conclusion of a flashback initiated by a magnificent clearance from goalkeeper Ederson. Back from the locker room, Manchester killed the meeting of a counter assassin, initiated by Phil Foden, whose center found Mahrez, all alone. Scorer in the first leg, the native of Sarcelles embodied the brazen realism of the English, which could have increased the score, especially by Foden (77th) during a freewheeling end of the Parisians.