Mahrez double takes Man City into first Champions League final

AFP
Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's first ever Champions League final had been five years in the making after Riyad Mahrez's double saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday.
AFP
Mahrez double takes Man City into first Champions League final
AFP

Manchester City's Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez (second left) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League second leg semi-final football match between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 4, 2021.

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's first ever Champions League final had been five years in the making after Riyad Mahrez's double saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday to seal a 4-1 semi-final aggregate win.

City will look to set the seal on a third Premier League title in the past four seasons in the coming days as they remain on course for a treble, having already lifted the League Cup.

But their previous four Champions League campaigns under Guardiola ended in anguish before the semi-final stage.

Guardiola has won the competition twice before as a coach during his time at Barcelona.

However, the Catalan has also endured a decade of disappointment in Europe's premier club competition since.

"It is for all of us and the club. I'm incredibly proud," said Guardiola. "Getting to the final now makes sense of what we have done in the past four or five years. Every day these guys have been consistent and this is remarkable."

Mahrez's goal also decided the first leg and the Algerian, who grew up in the Parisian suburbs, haunted his home town team again with two clinical finishes early in each half.

The final in Istanbul on May 29 against Real Madrid or Chelsea is the culmination of City's rise since an Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008 transformed the club's fortunes.

Meanwhile, four years on from making Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the world's two most expensive players, PSG's wait for a first Champions League title goes on.

Mbappe could only watch on from the stands due to a calf injury as, just like in last week's first leg, his side imploded after an excellent first-half performance.

The visitors were left to rue huge missed chances by Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria in between Mahrez's strikes before Di Maria lashed out at Fernandinho to leave PSG down to 10 men for the final 20 minutes.

"We started really well, creating chances and dominating Manchester City," said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino. "That's not easy. Not many teams can dominate a team like Manchester City."

However, the Argentine, who had to come onto the pitch to calm his players after Di Maria saw red, admitted his side's indiscipline had cost them.

Idrissa Gueye was also sent off late in the first leg for a shocking challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

"Over the 180 minutes, for 40 or 45 minutes we played with 10 men," added Pochettino. "That's a massive advantage."

The French champions thought they had an early penalty to get back in the tie when Oleksandr Zinchenko was penalized for handball.

However, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers rightly reversed his initial decision on seeing a replay of the ball bouncing off the Ukrainian's shoulder.

Zinchenko was heavily involved again when the opening goal arrived at the other end.

He raced onto City goalkeeper Ederson's thunderous long pass into the PSG area. Zinchenko's cut-back found Kevin De Bruyne and after the Belgian's shot was blocked, Mahrez pounced to slot home on his weaker right foot.

The tie was still far from over as PSG penned City back and should have been at least level on the night before half-time.

Marquinhos has made a habit of scoring big Champions League goals and the Brazilian was inches away from another when his looping header came back off the crossbar.

Ederson then nearly undid his good work as Di Maria intercepted his hurried throw to Bernardo Silva and flashed a shot inches wide with the Brazilian keeper stranded outside his goal.

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