Manchester City reached the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history as Riyad Mahrez’s double saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on Tuesday to seal a 4-1 aggregate win.
Mahrez’s goal also decided the first leg and the Algerian, who grew up in the Parisian suburbs, haunted his home town team again with two clinical finishes early in each half.
The final in Istanbul on May 29 against Real Madrid or Chelsea is the culmination of City’s rise since an Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008 transformed the club’s fortunes.
Meanwhile, four years on from making Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the world’s two most expensive players, PSG’s wait for a first Champions League title goes on.
Mbappe could only watch on from the stands due to a calf injury as, just like in last week’s first leg, his side imploded after an excellent first-half performance.
The visitors were left to rue huge missed chances by Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria in between Mahrez’s strikes before Di Maria lashed out at Fernandinho to leave PSG down to 10 men for the final 20 minutes.
City will set the seal on a fifth Premier League title in the past 10 years in the coming days as they remain on course for a treble, having already lifted the League Cup.
But it has taken until their 10th consecutive season in the Champions League for Sheikh Mansour’s investment to be rewarded by playing in the biggest game in club football.
City boss Pep Guardiola has won the Champions League twice before as a coach during his time at Barcelona.
However, the Catalan has also endured a decade of anguish in Europe’s premier club competition since.
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Four times Guardiola has fallen at the semi-final stage with Barca and Bayern Munich since last lifting the trophy in 2011 on top of three quarter-final exits with City in the past three seasons.
In many of those ties, the fine details and controversial decisions went against Guardiola’s men despite dominating the match.
This time it was a role reversal as City had to withstand a barrage from PSG before the break.
The French champions thought they had an early penalty to get back in the tie when Oleksandr Zinchenko was penalised for handball.
However, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers rightly reversed his initial decision on seeing a replay of the ball bouncing off the Ukrainian’s shoulder.
Zinchenko was heavily involved again when the opening goal arrived at the other end.
He raced onto City goalkeeper Ederson’s thunderous long pass into the PSG area. Zinchenko’s cut-back found Kevin De Bruyne and after the Belgian’s shot was blocked, Mahrez pounced to slot home on his weaker right foot.
The tie was still far from over as PSG penned City back and should have been at least level on the night before half-time.
Marquinhos has made a habit of scoring big Champions League goals and the Brazilian was inches away from another when his looping header came back off the crossbar.
Ederson then nearly undid his good work as Di Maria intercepted his hurried throw to Bernardo Silva and flashed a shot inches wide with the Brazilian ‘keeper stranded outside his goal.
Mauricio Pochettino will wonder what could have been had Mbappe been fit with his replacement Icardi ineffective.
Neymar only ever showed flashes of his brilliance with City’s impressive defence led by Ruben Dias able to focus on stopping the Brazilian without Mbappe to worry about.
City have now kept 31 clean sheets this season in a marked contrast to the defensive weakness that has previously cost them in this competition.
Guardiola’s men have always shown enough quality going forward and a clinical counter-attack killed off the tie on 63 minutes.
De Bruyne freed Phil Foden down the left and his inch-perfect cross was blasted high past Keylor Navas by Mahrez.
In a repeat of the first leg, PSG’s discipline went with their hopes of reaching the final.
Di Maria needlessly stamped on Fernandinho to be shown a straight red card before Marco Verratti was lucky to escape seeing a second yellow.
Foden hit the post as City threatened to run riot in the closing stages.
But they had already done enough to make history.
I was written off but never gave up – Iheanacho
Leicester City’s in-form striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, says he never lost faith in himself while going through a rough patch in his career, adding that he was confident that he would return to form.
Iheanacho had his worst ever scoring run of his professional career in 2019, failing to score in over 365 days, with trio Jamie Vardy, Ayoze Perez and James Maddison all ahead of him in the pecking order.
The 24-year-old’s lack of goals at Leicester during this period also saw him lose his place in the Super Eagles, and was left out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
However, the former Manchester City striker has returned to form for The Foxes and was named March’s Premier League Player of The Month and is on course for a double award for April.
Speaking with BBC Sport on his resurgence, Iheanacho said, “I think a lot of people wrote me off, but I never lost faith in myself.
“I was going through a crazy and difficult time when things just didn’t work out for me.
“But I’ve worked extremely hard, and also have the manager and other staff at Leicester, and most importantly my brother and friend Wilfred (Ndidi) who stood by me.
“It’s been a really tough ride but I’m just delighted it’s all come together for me.
He continued, “It was truly a bad patch and we all know that some people are always too quick to judge. To hear some people come out now and start saying positive things again is only normal but I don’t even bother.
“I only have to prove to myself that I can do this consistently, continue to grow, help my club and country when I get the chance to play.
“We have a lot ahead of us. It’s that time of the season where you want to fight for everything in front of you and not get carried away.”
Iheanacho is the Foxes’ top scorer this season with 18 goals from 35 matches across all competitions.
BREAKING: Man City crowned Premier League champions after United loss
Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions for the third time in four seasons after Manchester United crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Leicester on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side are 10 points clear of second-placed United and have wrapped up the title with three games to spare.
City, top-flight champions for the seventh time, have aready won the League Cup this season and can secure a treble if they beat Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29.
Flick agrees German national team deal
Hansi Flick, who is stepping down as Bayern Munich coach at the end of this season, will take over the German national team after this summer’s Euro, a German newspaper reported on Monday.
Flick is expected to sign for three years, according to the Abendzeitung, a Munich newspaper, allowing him to lead the national team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024, which is scheduled to take place in Germany.
Flick, 56, has long been considered the preferred candidate for the post of national coach by the German Football Association (DFB).
He was assistant to Joachim Low, who is standing down after 15 years, between 2006 and 2014, when Germany won the world title.
Flick took over at Bayern in 2019 and has won seven trophies, including two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League.
Flick feuded with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over recruitment and asked for his contract, which was due to run until 2023, to be terminated at the end of the season.
The club agreed to the request and has already announced that 33-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, who is at rivals RB Leipzig, will take over.
Bayern board member Oliver Kahn told Sky television on Saturday, after the Bavarians won their ninth Bundesliga title in a row, that “yes, everything is settled” with the DFB.
But he added that “no financial compensation” had been agreed with the DFB for the last two years of Flick’s contract.
As compensation, the two institutions are considering organising an exhibition game between the German national team and Bayern Munich, with the profits from the ticket sales going to the German champions.
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