‘pepped up’ Manchester City storm into their maiden European final
When Pep is your coach you ought to be pepped up!
Well, Manchester City certainly were as they decimated Paris Saint Germain 2-0 in the return fixture last night on an Etihad pitch covered with remnants of a spring hail storm.
The final result, a 4-1 win on aggregate for the team from Manchester, courtesy a brace from their Algerian superstar, Riyad Mahrez.
In truth, the performance The Sky Blues demonstrated yesterday wasn’t surprising to me even one bit as such is the motivation and charisma their Spanish Manager brings to the table that every showing has its worth in gold.
Almost three Premier League titles in the last four seasons, seven victories on the bounce in the Champions League, the longest ever by any English team and now a maiden European title hurrah looking ever more certain.
Yes, this march into the final has been a major boost for Guardiola to deservedly be back in the ultimate showdown of Europe for the first time since 2010-11 with Barcelona. Such has been the wait for the Spaniard with tears of torment getting the better of him, after being denied a final berth on four consecutive occasions in the last decade.
So as the Cityzens celebrate this momentous feat, lets dive into another consistent and match winning performance we witnessed last night:
City strike early
As was the case in the first leg, Pep again went into the game without an out and out striker.
Truth be told, this wasn’t as surprising as Pochettino’s call to bench Mbappe despite him being fit after suffering a calf injury that made him miss the domestic game against Lens.
For me if PSG were to have any chance the French forward had to be on the pitch.
Well, this was not to be with Manchester City finding their first strike in just the 11th minute.
Yes, Riyad Mahrez drilled a super effort across the PSG goal after his compatriot, Kevin De Bruyne’s first attempt was blocked by defender Marquinhos and the deflection came straight to the Algerian who made no mistake in putting City in front.
PSG were rocked early! Much to do to mount a comeback.
The comeback attempt from the French side was immediate as skipper Marquinhos almost made amends with a header that unfortunately hit the cross bar. City were lucky not to concede.
PSG had their second chance moments later as City keeper Ederson released the ball to Bernardo Silva who took too much time to clear his line and as a result Angel Di Maria grabbed the ball, to curl an attempt that went inches wide of the post.
City survived a second scare!
With no further footballing precipitations, the first half drew to a close.
PSG suffer further in the second 45
Manchester City started the second half brightly as they created another attempt on goal when Phil Foden fired a powerful shot to extract a good save from Navas albeit being judged off-side.
Seconds later, Brazilian brave boy Neymar had a good opportunity to put PSG level but took too much time to fire the shot courtesy a strong defensive display from City only to earn a corner.
The hurrah though happened at the other end, as The Sky Blues finally had their second with Riyad Mahrez striking a brace in the 63rd minute after a good counter attack from City. Phil Foden fed a crucial cross to the Algerian who made an unspotted run towards the PSG goal and finished strong with yet another effort in the back of the net.
Pep Guardiola and his accomplices were delighted amid the drizzle that engulfed the Etihad.
Minutes later, history repeated itself when PSG were again red-carded with Di Maria sent off for pushing and kicking Fernandinho amid disappointment and rage galore as their final hopes were all but shattered.
As the referee blew the final whistle, contrasting emotions descended on the pitch with a dejected French side only managing a card in the full 90 and an ecstatic English team earning a well-deserved maiden entry into the all-important final.
Can Pep’s City win the ultimate prize in Europe?
Well, why not?
Manchester City are playing their most consistent football under proud-man Pep and I see no reason why they would squander their chances being so close.
With Premier League titles won, Carabao Cups conquered, the only title that hasn’t seen The Sky-Blue domination is The Champions League and believe me this team is hungry to be amongst Europe’s best.
Had it not been for the Manchester United supporters taking Old Trafford under siege in the postponed Liverpool clash on Sunday, City would have been declared Champions had the Reds won that bout with four games still left to play.
Such has been their dominating run!
A maiden European victory will be more than certain for Manchester to treasure; the only question is whether the London side or the team from Madrid will bear the brunt!