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5 talking points as dominant Man City beat PSG to reach Champions League final

Manchester City reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain.

A dominant performance saw the Sky Blues build on their 2-1 victory at Parc des Princes last week to outplay their opposition once against at the Etihad.

Riyad Mahrez added to his first-leg goal with an early strike to put City ahead after a blistering counter-attack set up by Ederson and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Moments earlier, PSG thought they had a penalty after a handball by Zinchenko, but replays showed it hit the full-back’s shoulder and VAR quickly overturned the decision.

The first half continued at a frantic pace, with Marquinhos heading against the bar and Angel Di Maria curling just wide after a mistake by Bernardo Silva.

That being said, City were rarely up against it thanks to the colossal performance of Ruben Dias at the heart of defence, with PSG failing to register a shot on target on the night.

And Mahrez grabbed his fourth goal in three European games to put the tie beyond PSG’s reach, finishing a devastating move set up by Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden which sliced through PSG’s midfield and back line.

As in the first leg, tempers flared in the closing stages and Di Maria’s act of petulance – lashing out at Fernandinho – was met with a straight red card in the 69th minute.

This all-but ended the tie, although the drama did not stop there and Zinchenko was involved in a heated clash with Leandro Paredes. Elsewhere, Presnel Kimpembe was fortunate not to be given his marching orders after a horrendous challenge on Gabriel Jesus.

But City weathered PSG’s increasingly aggressive challenges and the full-time whistle was met with scenes of joyous celebration as the club now stands 90 minutes away from being crowned champions of Europe for the first time.

Here are five talking points on a historic night at the Etihad.

1. VAR spares referee blushes

The ball struck Zinchenko’s shoulder, but the referee pointed to the spot

PSG started the game on the front foot and were awarded a golden opportunity to open the scoring from the penalty spot – for a few seconds, at least.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was penalised for a ‘handball’ in the seventh minute after Neymar swung in a cross from the flank, but replays showed the ball was nowhere near the City left-back’s arm.

Instead, it came off the back of his shoulder, leading to referee Bjorn Kuipers promptly being called over to the pitch-side monitor to have a second look at the incident.

Zinchenko’s adamant protests over the original decision were justified almost instantly as Kuipers overturned the penalty and handed the ball to City.

In a season of frustratingly-long VAR checks, it was refreshing to see the decision overruled so quickly.

2. Mahrez on target again

Mahrez has scored in three consecutive Champions League games
Mahrez has scored in three consecutive Champions League games

Shortly after PSG’s penalty was overturned, Riyad Mahrez continued his fantastic Champions League form with a goal to increase City’s grip on the tie.

Zinchenko – handed a deserved reprieve only minutes earlier – played a key part in the build-up to the goal by surging down the left flank to latch onto Ederson’s pass.

The Ukrainian pulled the ball back to Kevin De Bruyne, whose effort was blocked by a PSG body and fell to Mahrez.

The Algerian – who scored in the first leg and in the quarter-finals against Borussia Dortmund – took a moment to compose himself before sliding the ball beyond Keylor Navas with his weaker right foot.

If Mahrez’s first goal came from a fine counter-attack, his second came from a sublime one.

City’s front three of Mahrez, De Bruyne and Phil Foden kicked into action just after the hour mark to scythe open the PSG defence.

The beautifully-crafted move resulted in Foden crossing across the box, giving Mahrez the simple task of finishing into a gaping net.

It was a magical moment which capped a world-class semi-final for the former Leicester star.

3. Indomitable Dias

Dias produced yet another sensational performance against PSG's star-studded attack
Dias produced yet another sensational performance against PSG’s star-studded attack

Given that Mahrez scored twice, it says a lot about Ruben Dias’ performance that he could well have been named man of the match.

City’s record signing was simply magnificent, putting his body on the line time and time again to block PSG shots and intercept their crosses.

In a team which Pep Guardiola regularly chops and changes, Dias has been a mainstay, showing how he has established himself as indispensable during his debut Etihad campaign.

Only midfielder Rodri has made more appearances than the Portugal international this season and he was a calm head even as tensions flared late on.

They say defences win titles…

4. PSG discipline slips again

Di Maria lashed out at Fernandinho after the ball went out for a throw-in
Di Maria lashed out at Fernandinho after the ball went out for a throw-in

Idrissa Gueye’s horror tackle in the first leg. Angel Di Maria’s moment of madness in the second.

You don’t reach Champions League finals by going down to 10 men in both semi-final encounters.

Yet PSG learned little from their collapse in discipline last week and Di Maria saw a straight red card for stomping on Fernandinho during a spat on the touchline.

There could have been more sendings off during a feisty conclusion to the second leg, with Leandro Paredes clashing with Zinchenko after chucking the ball at Foden’s head.

Di Maria’s red card came as PSG needed three goals and entirely ended their hopes of an unlikely comeback.

It therefore came as no surprise to see Mauricio Pochettino leave the Kylian Mbappe on the bench rather than risk worsening the calf injury which ruled the Frenchman out of starting contention.

PSG’s poor discipline over the two legs – combined with City’s superior quality – mean the French club’s focus returns to Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.

5. City make history

Guardiola will hope to extend his 100 per cent record in Champions League finals
Guardiola will hope to extend his 100 per cent record in Champions League finals

Everything is pointing to this being a special season for Manchester City.

They have already collected the Carabao Cup, they are on the brink of the Premier League title, and they have reached the Champions League final for the first time in their existence.

City’s progression to the encounter in Istanbul later this month is also their first European final since 1970, when they lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The convincing victory over PSG also comes as a major relief and achievement for Pep Guardiola, who has ended his decade-long wait for a Champions League final and is now just 90 minutes away from a third triumph in the competition.

He has won both of his previous finals – in 2009 and 2011 in Barcelona – and after brushing aside the Ligue 1 champions, City will be confident of overcoming the victor of Chelsea and Real Madrid’s semi-final.

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