Champions League

Mahrez bags a brace as Manchester City beat PSG to reach Champions League final

Riyad Mahrez scored twice to help Manchester City past Paris Saint-Germain and into the Champions League final for the first time.
Riyad Mahrez scored twice to help Manchester City past Paris Saint-Germain and into the Champions League final for the first time. REUTERS - PHIL NOBLE

Riyad Mahrez scored two goals on Tuesday night to fire Manchester City into their first Champions League at the expense of last season's finalists Paris Saint-Germain.

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Trailing 2-1 from the first leg at the Parc des Princes and missing injured star striker Kylian Mbappé, PSG tore into their hosts from the outset.

And the waves of pressure appeared to have brought their reward when Oleksandr Zinchenko was sanctioned for a handball.

But referee Bjorn Kuipers checked with the video assistant who confirmed the ball had hit the Ukrainian's shoulder.

Just as PSG were digesting their disappointment, the City goalkeeper Ederson sent Zinchenko scampering down the left wing.

The defender centred for Kevin De Bruyne whose shot hit Alessandro Florenzi and spun into the path of Riyad Mahrez.

The Algeria international, who was on target in the first leg in Paris last Wednesday, fired home through the legs of PSG goalkeeper Kaylor Navas. That made it 3-1 to City on aggregate.

Saint turns sinner

But less than 10 minutes after creating his side's goal, Ederson nearly led to PSG's equaliser

The Brazilian rolled the ball out to Ilkay Gundogan who was immediately stripped of the ball and though the goal was unguarded, Angel Di Maria sliced it wide from 20 metres wide.

PSG continued to press for a way back but despite dominating possession, Neymar and his cohorts could not find the smart pass near the City penalty area.

Just after the hour mark, City cut open PSG. De Bruyne and Phil Foden interchanged passes as they marauded forward from within their own half.

Foden eventually slid the ball from the left across the PSG penalty area and an unmarked Mahrez rifled the ball over the sprawling Navas. 4-1 on aggregate and game effectively over.

Implosion

With PSG needing three goals in 21 minutes to advance to their second consecutive final, Di Maria was shown a straight red for a petulant stamp on Fernandinho.

Their Champions League dream flying away into the snow-lashed Manchester night, PSG midfielder Marco Verratti skirted perilously close to a dismissal too.

"We tried everything," PSG midfielder Ander Herrera told RMC.

"We created problems for a very good team but it didn't happen for us. Obviously we are sad but its not easy to get to the final."

His boss Mauricio Pochettino added: "To get this far after beating Barcelona and Bayern Munich, it's a shame not to get to the final. But the team never gave up. You need some luck to get through .. we didn't have it."

League challenge

Pochettino said his side would concentrate on retaining their Ligue 1 title as well as advancing to the final of the Coupe de France.

"We need to be ready for the matches remaining," the Argentine added.

His City counterpart, Pep Guardiola, can wrap up a third Premier League title in four years when his side hosts Chelsea on Saturday.

"It's great for this club to get to the Champions League and I am so happy for the fans," Guardiola told RMC

"But for me winning a third league title in four years is more important than the Champions League. The title shows how consistent we have been."

Guardiola's men will meet either Chelsea or Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Istanbul on 29 May. 

"To score in big matches is what you dream of when you are kid," Mahrez told RMC.

"So of course I'm happy to have scored three goals in the semis. I think getting through to the final is merited. We were efficient when it mattered and we were solid as a team."

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