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Man City deliver a superb performance to beat PSG and seal top spot in their Champions League group as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus strikes see Pep Guardiola's side come from behind

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
 2021-11-24

Paris Saint-Germain are the best team in France by the length of an autoroute but still do not look ready to win a Champions League.

That may one day be good news for Manchester United, who covet their manager Mauricio Pochettino. On Wednesday night it was good news for Manchester City who came from behind to deservedly beat them at the Etihad.

Few teams in football have ever been as staggeringly front loaded as PSG. As they chased the win that would have given them first position in the group here with a game to go, their gilded front four of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria were all on the field.

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Gabriel Jesus (right) celebrates scoring the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain with his Manchester City team-mates
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The forward came off the bench for the home side when they were a goal down but placed a neat winner 14 minutes from time
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PSG star Lionel Messi looks on with dejection as City players celebrate taking a late lead in the background at the Etihad

But when the chance to grab victory came the way of the Brazilian Neymar in the 74th minute, he missed it. Three minutes later City’s Gabriel Jesus was rather more accurate from six yards and City had the win their football, their creation of chances and their territorial superiority deserved.

This was a big victory for Pep Guardiola and City. It means that they no longer need victory in a behind closed doors game at Leipzig next month to send them through to the knock out stages as a seeded group winner. They can no longer be caught.

Equally, it will serve to further convince the English champions that they can win this competition after last season’s defeat in the final against Chelsea.

After dominating a first half that ended goalless, City fell a goal behind in the 50th minute when Mbappe scored at the far post. Against a dangerous team, City could have panicked, lost their heads and lost their shape. They could then have lost the game. But they didn’t do any of those things. They rallied to equalise through Raheem Sterling and went on to win. With only a third of the season gone, they look a step ahead of a side like PSG already.

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After being dominated in the first half, PSG took the lead at the start of the second through forward Kylian Mbappe
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The French forward celebrates his goal which came against the run of play in the Champions League group stage tie

MATCH FACTS AND GROUP STANDINGS

Man City (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Joao Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Zinchenko (Gabriel Jesus 54), Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Sterling.

Subs not used: Ake, Steffen, Laporte, Fernandinho, Carson, Palmer, McAtee.

Goals: Sterling 63, Gabriel Jesus 76.

Booked: Rodri, Cancelo, Gabriel Jesus.

PSG (4-3-3): Navas, Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes (Kehrer 67), Paredes, Herrera (Danilo 61), Gueye (Di Maria 67), Messi, Mbappe, Neymar.

Subs not used: Ramos, Verratti, Icardi, Dagba, Wijnaldum, Diallo, Ebimbe, Donnarumma, Franchi.

Goal: Mbappe 50.

Referee: Daniele Orsato (Montecchio)

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They have lost to Pochettino’s team once this season of course, 2-0 in Paris in September. But that was a score line that didn’t really reflect the way the game had gone. City were looking odds-on for an equaliser that night until the moment Messi torpedoed them at the death. That is the kind of thing the French league leaders are capable of. That is why they have spent all that money.

What PSG cannot do at this level, however, is play consistency well from front to back. Their huge in investment in assembling football’s version of Trident has left them short elsewhere and that makes them vulnerable. In the other areas of the field, they are not in the same class as a team like City and here that told in the end.

Not that PSG didn’t have their big moment to shape the course of the game and take control of Group A themselves. That chance did come and they wasted it.

With Di Maria on as a substitute to bolster PSG’s push for the victory they needed, he played a neat exchange with Neymar 20 yards out in the 74th minute and suddenly his team mate was in. Neymar’s touch and speed off the mark took him clear of flailing City legs and a goal seemed certain. But when Neymar fronted up goalkeeper Ederson at a slight angle, he somehow missed the target.

It was the kind of miss that needed a replay to confirm there had been no wicked bounce off the turf or a hitherto undetected deflection off the goalkeeper. But there was nothing like that to be found. It was a just a miscue and it transpired to be the French team’s last big chance of the night but not City’s.

City did not need victory as badly as PSG. They just needed not to lose to stay in control of their own destiny. They could have backed off and sat off. But Guardiola teams do not play that way and when Ilkay Gundogan worked hard down the right to pick up play just three minutes after Neymar’s big moment, he turned the ball back to Riyad Mahrez.

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Manchester City though grabbed a deserved equaliser just after the hour mark, with Raheem Sterling stabbing home
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Sterling celebrates his goal which started the City fightback on their way to a deserved three points in Group A
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PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino (left) congratulates counterpart Pep Guardiola - although both teams qualified for the last-16
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Manchester City dominated the Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium against PSG - graphic via SofaScore
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The Algerian had crossed the ball well all night and his latest effort found Bernardo Silva peeling off his man at the far post. Silva’s first time touch with his instep was perfect, sending the ball three yards back whence it came and in to the path of Jesus. He could not miss and did not.

It was a goal that proved enough to see off the challenge of Pochettino’s team. The PSG coach arrived in Manchester to face a barrage of questions about United’s vacancy only to say he was happy in Paris. If he doesn’t have a decent stab at winning this competition, he may well be available next summer whether he likes it or not.

His team were second best in the first half. PSG’s front players were not able to influence matters and City came close through Gundogan – who hit a post – and Mahrez who saw a shot diverted over by a defender.

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Mbappe had gone close to opening the scoring for PSG in the first half, firing over with a first time shot before the break
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City's best chance in the first period fell to skipper Ilkay Gundogan (right) who struck the post with a shot inside the box
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Sterling and Messi shake hands at the Etihad Stadium as the two heavyweight teams in Group A clashed

Mbappe’s goal in the 50th minute arrived out of the blue. Messi drove from midfield, received the ball back from Neymar and delivered a deflected cross to the far post where Mbappe was able to control and score with a low shot.

City’s response was not immediate. For ten minutes or so, PSG controlled the game. They suddenly looked twice the team.

But City’s sense of irritation began to translate in to menace and when Rodri found Kyle Walker with a superb angled pass, the England player’s pull back was poked in on the stretch by Sterling for his 23rd Champions League goal.

RE-LIVE ALL THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENED...

21:47

Manchester City 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain

88min: Not impressed by PSG this evening. Granted City are an excellent side, but they have played like an inferior outfit have the French team.

They have not been awful, but this has not been a good advert for Mauricio Pochettino in terms of perhaps landing that vacant managerial seat at Manchester United.

21:44

Manchester City 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain

85min: City, clearly bored at sitting back, have now decided to try and grab a third to kill this game off.

Gabriel Jesus has looked excellent since he has come on as PSG once more struggle to gain a measure of control. I'm not writing them off just yet though - not with that front three and their ability on the counter.

21:30

Manchester City 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain

70min: Gabriel Jesus and no one else is aware at the time that he is offside and after collecting a pass at the near post, his rising drive is well pushed away by Keylor Navas. City with the bit between their teeth. But given PSG's proven potency on the counter - you still can't count them out. Good watch, this.

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20:46

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

42min: But that is the PSG danger. John Stones is robbed of the ball on the halfway line by Neymar, who quickly plays a through ball for Mbappe.

The striker only has time for one touch though as he is quickly closed in on by a lunging Kyle Walker and as a result the Frenchman can only sidefoot an effort from 17 yards over the bar.

Stones gives Walker a thumbs up to thank him for bailing him out there.

20:41

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

39min: PSG have lost their composure in this game. They cannot string two passes together. Messi, Neymar and Mbappe are looking rather annoyed up top at the notion they may even have to track back and do a bit of defending here.

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20:37

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

36min: It's all City right now, but they just cannot break down the French side. Once more the ball falls for Gundogan inside the penalty area but Marquinhos again gets in a crucial block.

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20:34

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

31min: Still no goals after a third of this game then, but what we do know at this stage is it looks like both of these sides will qualify this evening.

Club Brugge will be out if they are beaten at home by the already eliminated RB Leipzig... and they are already 3-0 down.

20:31

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

29min: Back come City though, and again they are denied by excellent defending. A squared pass finds Oleksandr Zinchenko 10 yards out, and although his first time shot is well struck, Marquinhos throws his body in front of it to make an excellent block as the visitors clear once again.

20:29

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

27min: Can we spare a thought for Nuno Mendes please? He advances forward from the left, cuts inside and somehow does not have the option to pass to either Neymar, Mbappe or Messi.

Instead he attempts a low shot on goal but it lacks power and is a little too central, enabling Ederson to get down well to gather.

20:25

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

24min: Credit where it is due to PSG, they are still trying to play out from the back and when it works it's looking slick and starting some promising attacks.

The latest is led by right-back Hakimi, but once the French side do get in City's half, they can't get close to troubling Ederson in the City goal.

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20:20

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

18min: That is sublime from City! Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva link up in the box with quick one touch passing, with the former attempting to bend a shot into the top corner across goal.

It looked like it was going in, only for Achraf Hakimi to head over in front of his keeper. Move of the match so far.

20:17

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

15min: A change of pattern. Now it's PSG with the ball, although let's just say they are in no hurry to get the ball forward. Lots of passing among the back four, with now only a half interested press from the home side.

It's all a little bit tactical so far. If I am being kind, this game is still simmering...

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20:13

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

12min: City still just about edging this so far. PSG are set up for the counter attack though and whenever the hosts get possession, it's everyone behind the ball for the French side. They are certainly giving the Premier League champions plenty of respect.

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20:08

Manchester City 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain

6min: City on top and they nearly score! Riyad Mahrez floats a cross to the backpost where Rodri nods the ball back into the mixer.

The header may have even been going in, but Presnel Kimpembe is taking no chances as he heads clear to prevent it going in as well as denying a waiting City star to tap home.

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From Mauricio Pochettino, there was hardly a moment of hesitation, a tumbling over words or a false step.

The PSG manager is the preferred candidate to take over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and was not about to do anything to entirely dismiss the notion that he may take the job.

IAN LADYMAN: The PSG manager is the preferred candidate to take over from Solskjaer at Man United and was not about to do anything to entirely dismiss the notion that he may take the job.

18:53

Both teams ring the changes in Manchester then

For City there are three alterations to the team that dismantled Everton 3-0 as Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez come back in for Aymeric Laporte, Phil Foden and youngster Cole Palmer.

Mauricio Pochettino dismantles his back four with three changes that see Marquinhos, Nuno Mendes and Presnel Kimpembe come in for Juan Bernat, Abdou Diallo and Thilo Kehrer, while Marco Verratti, who is carrying a knock, makes way for former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera.

Of course, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi start in attack while Sergio Ramos is on the bench as he awaits his debut since moving from Real Madrid in the summer.

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Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to seal their progression to the last-16 of the Champions League when they clash at the Etihad Stadium.

City currently top Group A ahead of the French giants and will qualify by avoiding defeat, and would even win the group if they beat Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Pochettino takes his team to Manchester amid links to him taking over at City's rivals United, but knows his side can also seal qualification with victory.

Follow Sportsmail's DAN RIPLEY for live Champions League coverage of Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain, including build-up, team news and updates.

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