Good evening everyone, George Overhill here to take you through tonight’s huge Champions League semi-final first leg with Manchester City visiting Paris Saint Germain.Embed from Getty Images
This is City’s first trip to this stage of the competition for five years, since a rather tame exit against Real Madrid under Manuel Pellegrini.
PSG on the other hand lost their first final less than a year ago to Bayern Munich, whom they vanquished in the quarter-finals this time around.
They were managed by Thomas Tuchel at the time, who you may have noticed is now in charge of Chelsea in the other side of the draw. Click here for the match report of their 1-1 draw with Real Madrid last night.
Team news is as follows…
So Pep Guardiola has gone without a recognised striker as he has favoured of late. No place in the starting line up for Raheem Sterling either, or scorer of the Carabao Cup winning goal Aymeric Laporte. Four changes from that game.
And for PSG, they have gone for a FIFA-based line-up announcement to show modern they are…
Marquinhos is fit at the back, and no prizes for guessing who City will need to be keeping a close eye on in attack. These two…
Marquinhos and Kevin De Bruyne the captains tonight.
0 mins – We are underway!
2 mins – A first chance for Neymar. Rodri caught on the ball and the Brazilian breaks forward and fires a low shot that Ederson stops.
4 mins – A good run in midfield from Riyad Mahrez who then tries to slip in De Bruyne but Marquinhos gets across just in time ahead of the Belgian.
7 mins – Worth mentioning of course that PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino overcame Manchester City in hugely dramatic fashion on the way to the final himself two seasons ago, a final he lost to Liverpool.
8 mins – Ruben Dias gets an important head to a ball looking for Kylian Mbappe to divert it through to his keeper.Embed from Getty Images
10 mins – Kyle Walker goes on an ambitious jaunt through the centre of the park but Leandro Paredes steals it from him before crashing into a couple more tackles and winning a free kick near the centre spot.
12 mins – No fans in the Parc des Princes of course, but at least we are not playing a Champions League semi at a training ground tonight
13 mins – Close! A first PSG corner finds its way to Mbappe who lays it off for a pile driver from Alessandro Florenzi which is blocked. The ball is recycled to the French sensation whose quick feet see him tricking his way through the area and getting a shot away that Ederson has to tip over.
15 mins – GOAL!!! PSG 1-0 Manchester City (Marquinhos)Embed from Getty Images
Another corner for the French champions as they pile on the pressure, and it is far too simple from Manchester City’s point of view. The ball is swung across by Angel Di Maria and met with a near post glancing header straight into the far corner. The PSG captain scores in the Champions League semi-final for the second season running. Exactly the start City did not want.
19 mins – Marco Verratti is robbed of the ball by Mahrez who is then caught in possession by Neymar in a dangerous position, but the referee adjudges it a foul to put an end to the threat.
21 mins – Close! Bernardo Silva does well to get onto the end of a Joao Cancelo deep ball in from the left and diverts it towards goal on the stretch, but a combination of Kaylor Navas and the near post turn it behind.
22 mins – PSG are certainly up for this. The whole side are snapping into tackles, including the star men. If anyone has the quality to deal with it though it is this Manchester City side with the quality they have on the ball.
25 mins – Is Marquinhos underrated? He has apparently just passed his former team mate with Brazil and PSG (and now Chelsea man) Thiago Silva for fourth in all time appearances in Paris.
26 mins – When PSG get into advanced areas the City players retreat and pack their defensive third but the PSG players are so good on the ball they still manage to find space to play. Another Di Maria corner comes in and has to be punched behind for one from the other side from Ederson. There was a VAR check for something in there as well.
28 mins – Close! Almost a second from a corner as Neymar’s ball from the other side finds Paredes ahead of Dias at the near post but his header is narrowly wide of the angle of bar and post. City are going to have to put a stop to that pretty sharply.
30 mins – In answer to my earlier question, this stat suggests that maybe he is underrated.
31 mins – Yellow card for Cancelo for fairly cynically taking out Mbappe as he sprints down the right. Probably not a great position to be in with an hour left and him sprinting at you.
32 mins – Close! City are unhappy. VAR are having a look at a high boot from Paredes as he cleared a Mahrez header inches from the head of Silva. Navas had given the ball away to set up the chance.
34 mins – It has suddenly become incredibly end to end. Chances at either end that do not quite materalise at the last. John Stones makes an important block on a Mitchel Bakker shot with probably the clearest opportunity.
36 mins – Ederson comes rushing out to clear a ball ahead of Di Maria and skews it into the air. 30 seconds later Dias has to make a crucial sliding interception to prevent Mbappe being played in.Embed from Getty Images
38 mins – A minute of respite as City put together a few passes until De Bruyne puts in a dangerous low ball from the right which Bakker boots behind for a corner. Said corner is then punched away by Navas who just signed a new contract in Paris at 34. Not bad going.
39 mins – Neymar is on the ground. Shock across the world ensues. He appears to be in some pain after an awkward landing on his shoulder in a tackle from Cancelo, but it is very hard to tell when it is genuine or not with him.
41 mins – Close! A huge shout for a PSG penalty. Mahrez gets a toe on a ball that Neymar is winding up to finish. Florenzi seems to be the one who brings down the Brazilian more than anything. There was some great work from Di Maria in the build up as well.
42 mins – Close! At the other end Phil Foden is found in space but smashes his shot straight at Navas after PSG give the ball away in a dangerous area. They have done that a few times now.
45 mins + 1 – HALF TIME – PSG 1-0 Manchester City
A breathless opening 45 minutes which City will be pleased ended with them only a goal down. But that Foden chance at the end of the half there was a big one and would have put a completely different slant on the half-time team talks for either manager.
PSG have looked threatening in attack throughout but have caused problems for themselves at the back more than once. Judging by what we have seen so far, there are goals in this for both sides. Can City get a crucial away goal?Embed from Getty Images
It was Ilkay Gundogan who left Marquinhos for the opening goal, but to be fair to him it looks like they were marking zonally so whether he was supposed to stay with the runner or not is anyone’s guess.
The BT Sport studio crew suggesting that a recognised number nine would have put away one of the chances the City did get. Has Guardiola tried to be too clever again? It is probably his biggest weakness in his time at City to overthink his tactics for the biggest games in Europe.
Some of England’s finest talents there enjoying the spectacle. Safe to say we can classify them “legacy fans” then?
The stats to back it up there, if that is your sort of thing. Still only 1-0 though.
Jake Humphrey in the BT studio says: “They make it look so easy Owen!”
Owen Hargreaves responds: “Well that’s because they are really good on the ball.”
Cannot argue with that insight.
The sides are back out. No changes.
45 mins – Neymar has some strapping on his left arm from that fall in the first half.Embed from Getty Images
46 mins – A City free kick in a decent position out wide is swung in but Bakker heads it away.
49 mins – Walker gets the better of Mbappe down the left as he tries to check back inside. No lack of speed in that match up.
50 mins – Cancelo is rolling around just outside the PSG area having had Di Maria step on his foot. Referee Felix Brych extremely dismissive of his upset however.
52 mins – City attempting to find an opening as they pass it around outside the PSG area but pursued by a swarm of home players at every turn. Di Maria eventually wins a lucky free kick to relieve the pressure.
55 mins – Di Maria immediately gives the ball away trying to turn in a leisurely fashion in his own half of course. Not sure there is a curse of a live blogger yet but there will be soon.
56 mins – Close! Mbappe making City defenders look stupid at the other end. Stones is doing everything he can to shut down the Frenchman but simply cannot match the foot speed. Mbappe works himself a yard of space and fires a ball across the six-yard box that Verratti is inches away from turning in.
58 mins – Paredes seems to clearly foul Mahrez in an attacking area which the referee ignores. There have been a few instances of that in the last few minutes. It has not been quite the same when a PSG player has gone down either.Embed from Getty Images
59 mins – Great work from Di Maria in his own half before he fires a great through ball for Mbappe to chase. Ederson is out quickly though to clear.Embed from Getty Images
61 mins – Close! A high ball falls to De Bruyne near the edge of the area who launches an ambitious overhead kick narrowly over.
62 mins – Cancelo was on a yellow card so probably not a surprise. Guardiola can make five changes tonight.
63 mins – Idrissa Gueye wins possession in midfield and sets Di Maria rampaging down the right, but new man Oleksandr Zinchenko stops him.
64 mins – Walker suddenly appears on the overlap at the PSG byline and gets a ball into the middle, but nobody is there except Marquinhos who clears behind.
64 mins – GOAL! PSG 1-1 Manchester City (De Bruyne)
The corner is worked to De Bruyne outside the area. He lifts an inviting ball curling into the box which nobody can quite get on the end of but, with Navas caught in two minds, it bounces straight into the back of the net. A huge away goal for City.
69 mins – That goal seems to have changed the belief of both sides. City suddenly know they are in this and PSG are chasing with less menace than before.
70 mins – Felix Brych is in on the act now too as he awards City a free kick outside the PSG area for a Gueye foul, and then books Paredes for blasting the ball down field in frustration. De Bruyne will take it…
71 mins – GOAL! PSG 1-2 Manchester City (Mahrez)Embed from Getty Images
No he won’t! Mahrez steps up and curls one straight through the PSG wall between Paredes and Presnel Kimpembe and into the net. Navas did not have much of a chance having been let down so badly by his wall. The game has been turned completely on its head.
74 mins – Neymar is booked for a late touch on Ruben Dias. The City defender more than makes the most of it. Neymar surely understands how that works.
75 mins – Close! Foden flicks a header at goal but Navas is behind it.
77 mins – Gueye has fouled Gundogan and they are checking for a red card…
77 mins – Red card (Gueye) – It is without question a sending off. Late and high on the calf with his studs. Gueye and Pochettino’s faces both show they know it. PSG have fallen apart here.
80 mins – Di Maria is sacrificed for Danilo to sure up the midfield following the sending off.
82 mins – Rodri gets to the same place that Walker did before the goals and gets a ball into the same area. Same result as well. No City player in sight and it is chested back to Navas.
84 mins – Safe to say PSG have not responded well to the each set back. Very much compounded the situation each time with a new disaster. Mahrez fires wide of the near post from distance.
85 mins – Gundogan drifts a ball into the box towards Mahrez which Bakker and Navas both go for and neither reach it, the ball going out for a goal kick.
86 mins – De Bruyne is booked for a stamp on Danilo’s ankle. The entire PSG team sprint to the referee from all sides to try to get him sent off.
87 mins – Close! Foden goes on an Eden Hazard-style run through the heart of the PSG defence and hits a shot with the outside of his boot which Navas holds. That would have been an incredible goal.
89 mins – Danilo blasts the ball against Silva looking to win a corner. It comes back off the PSG man and a goal kick is awarded. That really sums up how this game has turned around.
90 mins – Four minutes of injury time. Can only really see City adding to their advantage here.
90 mins + 1 – Silva fouls Herrera in midfield but Dias slams into Neymar with the loose ball as the whistle goes. City completely dominant now. PSG will want this game to end.
90 mins + 3 – Mbappe is nudged off the ball by Dias who is throwing his weight around at the back. The referee is not interested.
90 mins + 4 – De Bruyne hammers a shot at goal from distance that is deflected just over.
Full time – PSG 1-2 Manchester CityEmbed from Getty Images
An excellent second-half performance from City to turn the game around. PSG were threatening throughout the first period but were nullified after half time. De Bruyne’s equaliser was fortunate but on the balance of play it was probably coming. From there, PSG may have thrown the tie away. The complete failure of the defensive wall let Mahrez put City ahead, then team-wide frustration manifested itself in Gueye’s red card. Two away goals and advantage City.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
The contrasting fortunes of either half there for the PSG danger man. That was the sort of implosion that we associated with the French side in seasons gone by but which appeared to be in the past when they reached last season’s final, and defeated holders Bayern in the previous round.
If the Bayern tie represented a hump which tonight’s hosts got over, tonight’s victory from a goal down may well be a defining result for City.
Kevin De Bruyne is certainly not getting ahead of himself. No signs of celebrating the result tonight. On Mahrez scoring the free kick it looked like he would take he tells BT Sport: “You know, he scored the goal so who am I to say something about that?”
For as good as the second half performance was from City, PSG will surely know they have made it too easy for them. They are taking quite a pasting on social media…
“It’s actually a terrible free kick from Riyad” says Owen Hargreaves. The wall parted and suddenly City were ahead.
The second legs of these semi-finals are only a week away. Things can turn around quickly as we have seen tonight so City will have to be on top of their game still to make sure they reach their first Champions League final against either Chelsea or Real Madrid.
PSG will be regretting not taking advantage of their first-half dominance, but there were a number of opportunities for City that a striker might have been in position to finish off. A couple more of those and this tie likely would be over. An early goal at the Etihad for PSG and they will be filled with confidence again.
But there is no denying that this was a big away win at the business end of the Champions League.
Guardiola seems a little bit more satisfied than De Bruyne, and also a bit more drained, but says: “There is a hard job to do in six days.”
He also tells BT Sport: “All that I want is to be ourselves in the second leg.”
A big night for Manchester City, and we still have an all-Premier League final on the cards currently. Everything rests on next week.
That is all from me. Goodnight.