UEFA : PSG and Manchester City share the spoils
Fernandinho’s deflected goal earned Manchester City a draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Paris St-Germain as both team ended 2 – 2.
Kevin de Bruyne’s clinical finish gave City the lead after Joe Hart saved Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty for PSG.
Ibrahimovic capitalised on Fernando’s error to equalise and Adrien Rabiot tapped in after the break to put French champions PSG in front.
Fernandinho’s scuffed effort gave City a potentially vital second away goal.
The second leg takes place at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, 12 April.
Teams who have drawn the first leg 2-2 away from home in European competition have progressed on 220 out of 277 previous occasions.
This fixture was touted as a battle of Europe’s richest clubs, with both sides backed by wealthy Middle-Eastern owners – PSG’s from Qatar and Manchester City’s from the United Arab Emirates.
While the teams have spent a reported £800m between them on players in the past five years, the game, which was entertaining, lacked the quality expected from such blue-chip line-ups.
Fernando’s mistake for PSG’s equaliser was a prime example.
The Brazilian collected the ball from Hart on the edge of his own penalty area and, while trying to flick a pass with the outside of his foot, directed the ball off Ibrahimovic’s boot and into an empty net.
It undid the superb work of Hart to save Ibrahimovic’s penalty low to his right – after David Luiz was tripped by Bacary Sagna – and De Bruyne’s powerful finish from a tight angle following Fernandinho’s surge forward.
Former Chelsea defender Luiz will be banned for the return leg after being shown a yellow card 12 seconds into the game, as will midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were fortunate to be in a position to salvage a draw as the fragile defence that has contributed to their disappointing Premier League campaign continued to look unstable.
Their deficiencies without injured captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany have been well documented, and they have now managed only one clean sheet in nine Champions League games this term.
Rabiot, who had a brief spell in the City youth set-up, made the most of non-existent marking to score at the back post after Hart parried Ibrahimovic’s header into his path.
Ibrahimovic had missed a clear chance when through on goal and also headed against the crossbar in the second half.
In the second leg, Pellegrini may want to re-assess the 4-4-2 formation that saw his side press PSG high up the pitch, with left-back Gael Clichy exposed by David Silva’s unfamiliarity with his position on the left of midfield.
But Pellegrini remains in a strong position to secure a Champions League semi-final – and perhaps title – for City, before being replaced by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini: “A very close game right to the end. The quarter-final continues to be open but this is a good result for us.
“We made a couple of important mistakes for the first goal and the second goal was offside.
“If we want to win, we cannot make those kind of mistakes. But we are trying to win the game from the first minute – it is the way we play.”
Before the return leg, Man City host West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday, the same day PSG travel to Guingamp, having already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title with six more games remaining.
The facts you need to know
- Joe Hart is the only goalkeeper to save two penalties in the Champions League this season; he has saved each of his past three penalties in the Champions League
- Hart has saved three of the five penalties he has faced in the Champions League since making his debut (60%), the highest percentage (min five pens) since 2011-12
- David Luiz was booked after 12 seconds, the quickest yellow card n the Champions League this season and the fastest since 2003-04
- No Man City player has been involved in more goals this season in all competitions than Kevin de Bruyne (26, level with Sergio Aguero)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored in five consecutive Champions League games for the third time in his career; he also did it in February 2012 with Milan and February 2014 with PSG
- Adrien Rabiot has scored in three of his past five Champions League games; he had not scored in his previous 12
- Fernandinho has scored and assisted a goal in the same game for City for the second time, both coming in the Champions League this season (also against Sevilla in November 2015)
- PSG have lost only one of their past 39 home games in European competition (W25 D13), against Barcelona in April 2015