Manchester City reached their first Champions League final as they overcame Paris St-Germain at Etihad Stadium to secure a commanding victory over two legs.
In a game played in unseasonal snow, the brilliant Riyad Mahrez capped a sweeping move started by goalkeeper Ederson’s 60-yard pass to extend their 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Paris.
PSG suffered a serious blow before kick-off when world-class forward Kylian Mbappe was restricted to the bench because of injury. They did not lack endeavour or intent but with Neymar subdued and City throwing bodies on the line in defence, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could not find a way through.
Mahrez punished them again just after the hour when he turned in Phil Foden’s cross at the far post to effectively end the contest.
PSG, as they did when Idrissa Gueye was sent off late in the first leg, lost their discipline and Angel di Maria was shown a red card for a senseless stamp on Fernandinho following a touchline tangle.
City were in full control, avoiding further mishap to set up the Champions League final they and manager Pep Guardiola have craved, against either Chelsea or Real Madrid in Istanbul on 29 May.
The celebrations when Manchester City scored and at the final whistle illustrated the significance of what these players and Guardiola have achieved.
Guardiola and City have been sweeping up domestic titles on a regular basis, with his third Premier League title a formality which could be confirmed with victory against Chelsea here on Saturday.
This tournament, however, has been the one code an outstanding team has been unable to crack, with hard-luck stories to tell and crucial slips when the pressure is on, such as when they lost 3-1 to underdogs Lyon in a one-off quarter-final last season.
City have shown great maturity and development this season, keeping their nerve when under pressure against Borussia Dortmund in the last eight and also surviving a PSG surge in Paris six days ago to recover for an outstanding win.
Here, early nerves were settled by Mahrez‘s goal and any further PSG threats were repelled with resilience and, when needed, desperate defending to ensure the lead they worked so hard to establish was well protected.
The Champions League has always been regarded as confirmation that Manchester City were a European superpower – now this high-class side will have the opportunity to confirm that status in Istanbul.
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