Manchester City claim share of spoils in Paris 2-2 thriller


Fernandinho struck 18 minutes from time as a first leg featuring a saved penalty, freak goals and no little excitement ended all-square.

Fernandinho forced in an equaliser 18 minutes from time as Manchester City’s first taste of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals delivered a night to savour.

Paris Saint-Germain enjoyed the better of proceedings but were never able to cement their dominance: Joe Hart’s early penalty save from Zlatan Ibrahimović was an apt snap-shot. Ibrahimović later got on the scoresheet with a freak goal to cancel out Kevin De Bruyne’s opener, then Adrien Rabiot made it 2-1. But Fernandinho’s riposte ensured City have the edge.

The first leg was breathless, with David Luiz’s yellow card inside 14 seconds a precursor to the frenetic action that followed. Ibrahimović’s 14th-minute penalty miss really lit the blue touch paper, yet even before that only good work from Frenchman Eliaquim Mangala denied Blaise Matuidi when he was put through.

Next came the penalty, Bacary Sagna adjudged to have caught Luiz. Hart, a pre-match doubt, guessed right and Ibrahimović was denied. The determination to make amends was palpable; the striker was suddenly everywhere. One header was comfortably stopped though Hart was helpless when PSG’s No10 curled narrowly over soon after.

De Bruyne soon delivered a sucker punch, however, finishing off a flowing counter after Matuidi was robbed in possession, but there was no refusing Ibrahimović. When Hart rolled a kick out to Fernando on the edge of the area, the Brazilian was seemingly unaware of the lurking threat, with his unsighted pass cannoning off the Swede and into the net.

There was no let-up after the break and Rabiot, once on City’s books, completed the comeback with a tap-in before the hour. Still Paris came, Ibrahimović looping a header onto the bar, and for a while City were just about holding on. Fernandinho was the key for the visitors, though, and proved as formidable in attack as in defence when he forced in a scrappy goal to reward a battling display.

Analysis from Chris Burke at the Parc des Princes

Key player: Fernandinho
A harrying presence in midfield, the Brazilian international was already catching the eye before his contribution to City’s opener, when he carried the ball upfield and waited for the perfect moment to release De Bruyne. Whereas fellow anchor Fernando struggled, Fernandinho brought the Premier League side level on 72 minutes, sniffing the chance to latch onto a loose ball in the box.

Ibrahimović leaves his mark … eventually
Having scored four times against Hart when Sweden beat England 4-2 in November 2012, Ibrahimović was hoping to cause the fit-again City goalkeeper more pain. It was Hart, though, who struck the early blow in their duel with his penalty stop before Ibrahimović nodded straight at him and fired over when clean through. However, the big Swede was not to be denied a fifth consecutive UEFA Champions League outing with a goal, even if his strike was one of the more bizarre from his collection.

Carelessness costs both teams
After a blistering start, City settled into an impressive game plan at the Parc des Princes, with their disciplined midfield keeping Paris at bay and eyeing opportunities to zip forward on the counter. That mature approach brought the visitors their breakthrough, but three minutes later the match was level, Fernando caught napping. As slips go, it could hardly have been more costly – but Paris returned the favour with some lax defending for Fernandinho’s equaliser. It leaves this tie beautifully poised.

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