Paris: Manchester City took a big step towards their first Champions League final as goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez earned them a 2-1 comeback win at Paris St Germain in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
PSG went ahead courtesy of a Marquinhos header in the first half, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost control after the break with De Bruyne and Mahrez finding the back of the net in the space of eight minutes to secure City’s 18th consecutive away win in all competitions.
Last year’s runners-up PSG then found themselves with a higher mountain to climb as midfielder Idrissa Gueye picked up a straight red card in the 77th minute for a reckless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
“The second half was much better, the way the first goal went in was a little bit lucky but we played great football in the second half, we did well,” De Bruyne said.
Pochettino agreed the visitors were the better team after the interval.
“There were two different halves. In the first half we did well. We created chances and deserved the lead, but in the second half they were better than us,” he said.
“The two goals were accidents, but they created more than us.” The French champions will need to show next Tuesday the same away form that enabled them to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou and Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in previous rounds if they are to progress.
“At halftime, I told the players we needed to be ourselves. We needed to be more aggressive and we didn’t let them breathe after the break,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
City dominated the early possession but PSG were the more dangerous side with Brazilian forward Neymar twice testing City keeper Ederson.
Marquinhos, returning to the team from an injury suffered in the quarter-final first leg against Bayern, put the hosts in front when he headed home Angel Di Maria’s whipped corner in the 15th minute.
City, overly cautious for fear of being punished on the break, were again exposed on a set-piece when Leandro Paredes headed Neymar’s corner just wide.
Guardiola’s side lacked their usual composure, with Joao Cancelo picking up a yellow card for a woeful challenge on Kylian Mbappe.
City’s first real chance came in the 42nd minute when Phil Foden, played infield by Bernardo Silva, shot too close to PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
The visitors were more attack-minded in the second half and they equalised after 64 minutes when De Bruyne, from a pass by Oleksandr Zinchenko who had just replaced Cancelo, sent in a cross and Navas failed to react as it curled into the far corner of the net.
Navas was beaten again seven minutes later when Mahrez’s free kick flew straight through a flimsy PSG wall and past the helpless Navas.
Gueye’s dismissal for a wild tackle on Gundogan made City’s task easier and they will take a big advantage into the second leg in Manchester.