PARIS (AP) – Paris Saint-Germain lost its composure, and the match as Manchester City rallied to win 2-1 away from home in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.
PSG led 1-0 through captain Marquinhos’ early header from a corner, but City skipper Kevin De Bruyne equalized in the 64th minute when goalkeeper Keylor Navas misread his dipping cross, and it bounced inside his post.
Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick – through a wall that jumped early and left an inviting gap for the Algeria winger – put the visitors ahead in the 71st.
“We deserved the lead, but in the second half they were better than us. Physically they were a little bit more aggressive, it was difficult for us to recover the ball,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said. “We’re very disappointed with the two goals. It’s difficult to accept that this happened in the semifinal; it’s excruciating.”
After City’s quick 1-2 punch, PSG’s composure soon crumbled, as has often been the case in recent seasons when under pressure. Pochettino’s side 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 more significant 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.
“In football, you need to believe,” Pochettino said. “Of course, we are under a little bit of pressure, but in football, you need to try.” City coach Pep Guardiola wants his players to stay relaxed for the return leg, rather than thinking about reaching the final for the first time in the club’s history. “All I want is for us to be ourselves in the second leg,” he said. “We are good playing a certain way; we cannot do it differently.”
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 a 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 15th-minute opener.
It was another vital 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 City’s defense problems 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 gap when he shot straight at Navas from just inside the penalty area, after being set up by Bernardo Silva’s pass from the right.