It has cost many years and a lot of money. It took three different coaches – Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola – to finish shaping a multi-million dollar project over a decade old. There have been unexpected eliminations and there have been victories, many victories, until Manchester City has achieved it: they are going to play the first Champions League final in their history. And he will do it after having eliminated a finalist from the previous year, a PSG that went ahead in the first leg but ended up succumbing to the superiority of the 'citizens', who managed better than on any occasion all the moments of doubt that they could have had in Europe. When PSG thought they had a minimal option, City took it upon themselves to eliminate them (2-0).
Ten years later, Pep Guardiola returns to a Champions League final. The terrain of a semifinal in Manchester was so unusual that even the weather was misplaced. A spectacular hailstorm in the hour before the game dyed the Etihad Stadium turf white, making the first passes of the match difficult. With almost no time to warm up, even more difficult because of the snow, the VAR avoided a penalty in favor of Zinchenko, although the ball hit him on the shoulder.
Then came the second decisive play of the afternoon, when Ederson received a ball in his area and first sent a millimeter pass to the rival three-quarters of the field. Zinchenko picked it up, surprising everyone, and sending a lateral cross. The ball fell to Mahrez and he defined with the right.
Pochettino and Guardiola made several changes from the first leg. The French, in addition to the forced withdrawal of Gueye (replaced by Ander Herrera) and the annoyances of Mbappé (ownership for Icardi), decided to remove Bekker –very outmatched in the first leg- to enter Diallo. For City, Guardiola opted for Fernandinho, on his 36th birthday, in the place of Rodri and for Zinchenko instead of Cancelo. The Ukrainian had a great impact in the Parc des Princes and won a great opportunity, which he did not miss.
PSG were unable to assert their moment of superiority in the match. He was scared before 1-0 and did it again later, when Marquinhos finished off a ball to the crossbar and then Di María had a clear chance. Neymar tried to sneak between the lines, always looking for Verratti's pass. But every PSG shot did not find a goal: in an hour, eight blocks from the centrals.
In the end, in a counterattack, Mahrez sentenced the tie with 2-0, his particular double. In his last three Champions League games, Mahrez has scored four goals. It is the level jump that was asked of City and that, at the same time, perhaps Sterling was asked, who between Foden and Mahrez has been relegated to the bench in the most important games of the season.
Mbappé didn't even warm up during the second half. A loss too hard at PSG. A decisive absence at the time of tracing a tie … a tie against this Manchester City.
Kean (61 ', Icardi), Draxler (61 ', Ander Herrera), Danilo Pereira (74 ', Walls), Colin Dagba (74 ', Florenzi), Gabriel Jesus (81 ', De Bruyne), Sterling (81 ', Bernardo Silva), Mitchel bakker (81 ', Abdou Diallo), Omen (84 ', Foden)
1-0, 10 ': Mahrez, 2-0, 62 ': Mahrez
Referee: Björn Kuipers
VAR Referee: Pol van Boekel
Ander Herrera (21 ', Yellow) Say Maria (68 ', Red) Verratti (70 ', Yellow) Alexander Zinchenko (70 ', Yellow) De Bruyne (73 ', Yellow) Kimpembe (86 ', Yellow) Danilo Pereira (88 ', Yellow