City rallies to win 2-1 at PSG in first leg of CL semifinal

PARIS (AP) — Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored in quick succession during the second half as Manchester City rallied to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

After PSG captain Marquinhos headed PSG ahead in the 15th minute, De Bruyne equalized in the 64th with a dipping cross that eluded goalkeeper Keylor Navas and bounced inside the post.

De Bruyne then left a free kick for Mahrez — who grew up in the Paris suburbs — and he curled the ball through a gap in the wall and into the bottom left corner in the 71st.

“The way the first goal goes in is a bit lucky, but we played great football in the second half,” De Bruyne said.

PSG’s composure soon crumbled, as has often been the case in recent seasons when under pressure, and finished the game with 10 players as midfielder Idrissa Gueye was shown a red card in the 77th minute for a dangerous tackle on midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.

City could have taken a bigger lead into the return leg next Tuesday, but winger Phil Foden shot straight at Navas after a brilliant jinking run through PSG’s flagging defense.

Chelsea drew 1-1 at Real Madrid in the other semifinal on Tuesday.

City made a bright start, stretching PSG with its quick passing and imposing itself in midfield with some hefty challenges.

But PSG had the first sights on goal and, after Neymar went close, Marquinhos timed his run well to meet Angel Di Maria’s corner near the front post and head in the opener.

It was another important goal from the Brazilian, after netting a last-gasp equalizer in the quarterfinals and then scoring in the semis last season.

Di Maria was causing problems for City’s defense with his runs from the right flank, while both Neymar and Marco Verratti were opening City up with their passing.

With City now playing on the break, Foden wasted a good chance near the break when he shot straight at Navas from just inside the penalty area, after being set up by Bernardo Silva’s pass from the right.

“In the first half we were too rushed,” De Bruyne said. “That’s not the way we’re set up as a team.”

PSG threatened early in the second half, when Di Maria’s superb pass over the midfield put Kylian Mbappe into space down the right. He twisted inside and out, putting two City defenders on the floor, but his fizzing cross was too strong and eluded his teammates.

De Bruyne set up City’s late winner in the League Cup final last Sunday and again took time to exert his influence after a brief spell out injured. The Belgium star went close with a shot on the turn that went just over on the hour mark.

Four minutes later, he was mobbed by his relieved teammates when his cross was intended for a teammate’s head but stunned Navas as it bounced past him.

“It is so hard for the keeper because he always expects someone to touch it,” De Bruyne said.

Then he gave the free kick to Mahrez, who grew up in Sarcelles but is another on a long list of talented local players overlooked by PSG over the years.

“He asked me if he could take it and I said ‘If you believe in yourself take it,’” De Bruyne said. “I have full confidence in all my team.”

He spotted a gap as PSG’s wall jumped too early, and inched City closer to its first Champions League final.

Both sides took a knee against racism just before the game.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Comments

Sign up for breaking news alerts