By Andy Hampson, PA
Manchester City produced a superb second-half fightback to claim a 2-1 advantage after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against 10-man Paris St Germain in Paris.
The Premier League leaders were stung by an early Marquinhos goal as the hosts dominated the first half of a high-quality encounter at the Parc des Princes.
They responded brilliantly with Kevin De Bruyne equalising after 64 minutes and Riyad Mahrez firing home a free-kick soon after.
PSG lost their discipline as City threatened to score more in a strong finish and Idrissa Gana Gueye was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
That was one of the best performances, in an away leg, by an English side in the history of European football. Absolutely outstanding from @ManCity 🙌🏻
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) April 28, 2021
The way City controlled proceedings in the latter stages was remarkable given how vulnerable they looked to PSG’s slick counter-attacks in a breathless opening period.
Neymar looked dangerous from the outset but City, and crucially manager Pep Guardiola, did not panic under considerable pressure and their response was a mature one.
Guardiola has been accused of over-complicating matters at this stage in the past but his selection, without a central striker and similar to that which disposed of Borussia Dortmund in the last round, delivered for him in style.
They now have a great chance to wrap up the tie and reach the final for the first time in next week’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
The game began at a cracking pace on a greasy surface and City had an early warning when Rodri was dispossessed and Neymar raced into the box to shoot tamely at Ederson.
Alessandro Florenzi had a fierce shot blocked and Neymar forced another save from Ederson. The French side’s breakthrough came with 15 minutes gone as Angel De Maria swung in a vicious corner and captain Marquinhos, who had been a fitness doubt ahead of the game, escaped from Gundogan to head home.
PSG continued to threaten with Di Maria causing problems from another corner and Neymar also teeing up Leandro Paredes to head wide. A brilliant flick from Florenzi created another opening but Mahrez got back to deny Neymar.
City’s best chances of the first half came after PSG mistakes. Keeper Keylor Navas gave the ball away and Phil Foden swooped to cross for Mahrez but the Algerian’s header was cleared.
Foden was then put in the clear himself after Kyle Walker seized on a loose pass but the England international shot straight at Navas.
City pegged PSG back in a strong start to the second half but, again, they were almost caught on the break. Kylian Mbappe brilliantly wrong-footed the defence but his ball across the six-yard box was too strong for Marco Verratti.
Undeterred, City pressed on and De Bruyne went close as he latched onto a Presnel Kimpembe header to send an overhead kick flashing narrowly over.
The pressure continued as Walker won a corner and it paid off as De Bruyne levelled moments later.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 28, 2021
The ball was worked to the Belgian outside the area and he lofted a dangerous cross towards the far post. The dip on the delivery bamboozled PSG and it evaded everybody to bounce into the net.
City sensed their chance and continued to press, winning a free-kick just outside the area. Mahrez stepped up and drilled home a powerful shot as the PSG wall faltered.
PSG’s night then took another turn for the worse as Gueye was shown a straight red card after catching Gundogan on the ankle with a late challenge.
Foden and De Bruyne had late chances to put City in complete command but PSG escaped further damage.