Manchester City put in an exceptional team performance to turn around a one goal deficit against PSG and secure a 2-1 win that takes them to the top of Group A and into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
All the goals came in the second half but there is absolutely no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s side deserved this win, having utterly dominated the majority of the match against a star studded PSG team that may be full of individual brilliance, but on this showing - are struggling to gel as a unit.
Guardiola has always managed to get his teams to be exactly that - a team - despite all of the talent in this City team. They pressed like a hungry pack of dogs throughout to give the PSG back line absolutely no time to play out from the back and even though the visitors went in front thanks to Kylian Mbappe, goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus turned the result around.
Those three points mean that City have secured top spot in the group with a game to spare, while PSG, despite defeat, are also through in second place. This disjointed showing from the visitors proves that, despite all the talent at his disposal, Mauricio Pochettino has work to do if he is to deliver the club’s first ever Champions League trophy at the end of the season.
However City, who were without both Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden on the night, were seriously impressive as they look to avenge the final defeat they suffered in May. Riyad Mahrez, who seemed to have all the space in the world throughout the first half on the right-hand side had his free kick headed towards goal by Rodri, but it was cleared off the line by Presnel Kimpembe, who was immense throughout.
Lionel Messi produced a nutmeg on Raheem Sterling but the Argentine, along with his two frontmen Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, couldn’t get into the game. There was a clear disconnect between the seven outfielders behind the ball, tasked with keeping Manchester City at bay, and the three world class forwards - and no matter how good they are - a team is unlikely to win the Champions League this way.
The hosts were all over them as Zinchenko and Bernardo Silva kept up their incessant pressure from the front and a stunning move left Mahrez to fire at goal, but Achrif Hakimi was there to head over a shot that seemed destined for the top corner. The Citizens were knocking at the door, and should have gone ahead soon after.
Joao Cancelo saw his cross half cleared but the ball fell invitingly to Ilkay Gundogan who could only fire the ball against the upright. Pep Guardiola had his head in his hands while his counterpart could count himself lucky to get his side in level at the break. It was a 0-0 hammering.
But the thing about this PSG front three is that when they get going - even for a few moments - they are unstoppable. Minutes after the break they combined to put PSG ahead. Messi, the chief creator, linked a few passes together with Neymar that released Nuno Mendes down the left. The youngster cut the ball back to the Argentine who found a yard of space and fired a deflected ball across the box which found Mbappe, who nutmegged Ederson to send the away end wild.
All of a sudden City looked second best and PSG’s main men were purring but the hosts bounced back with a goal of their own through the left toe of Sterling. Rodri picked out Kyle Walker with a diagonal and he squared the ball into the path of his countryman who just about got enough on the ball to level the scores.
These diagonal passes and constant pressure were clearly tactics Guardiola had prioritised as City kept on coming in search of a winner. Although PSG improved in terms of ball retention, City scored another vintage goal to flip the scoreline on its head. Mahrez’s cross found Bernardo Silva who came up with a beautiful first time lay-off to Gabriel Jesus who finished easily from close range. For all the jibes thrown at Man City’s fans over the years - especially in this competition, the sold out Etihad was absolutely rocking.
As Blue Moon rang out the full-time whistle brought an end to a breathless night of action. This PSG team is so intriguing to watch but against a side as good as Man City, the whole team has to produce as a unit to be absolutely certain of success. They proved they could do it in the home leg, but tonight draws serious question marks over their credentials to go all the way.
For Guardiola and City however, this season they look closer than ever before to finally lifting the European Cup.