Champion’s League:De Bruyne takes Man City through 1-0 at Paris’ expense


Manchester City 1-0 Paris (agg: 3-2)
Kevin De Bruyne’s fine 76th-minute shot took City into the semi-finals for the first time despite Sergio Agüero missing a first-half penalty.

Manchester City are into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time after Kevin De Bruyne’s fine curving shot ended the challenge of Paris in the last eight for the fourth year running.

City started as if keen to build on the away-goals edge given them by last week’s 2-2 draw in Paris, pressing back their visitors. Paris, however, held their nerve and from their first attack Edinson Cavani nearly got onto Ángel Di María’s through ball. Zlatan Ibrahimović then tested Joe Hart with a 30-metre free-kick, the City goalkeeper tipping over at full stretch.

On the half-hour, though, City passed up a golden opportunity to take a firm grip on the tie after Sergio Agüero was felled by Kevin Trapp. The Argentinian picked himself up to take the kick himself – only to put it a metre wide of the left-hand post.

With Paris struggling to muster much by way of attacking threat, City almost capitalised on some casual defending before the interval, Jesús Navas seizing on Serge Aurier’s loose pass but curling narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

The second half began in similar vein to the first, Hart diving to his right to keep out another stinging Ibrahimović free-kick before the goalkeeper clawed out Thiago Silva’s downward header from a corner.

Paris were largely struggling to create clear chances, however, and paid the price with 14 minutes remaining. City worked the ball from left to right and back again, and Fernando’s square pass gave De Bruyne the opportunity to sidestep into space and arc a perfect shot beyond Trapp from the edge of the box.

The visitors might have responded immediately as Cavani raced clear but Hart spread himself well and blocked the strike. And with that, Paris’s last hope had gone – and the City celebrations could start in earnest.

Analysis from Paul Saffer at the City of Manchester Stadium

City spirit trumps Paris tactics
Laurent Blanc deployed an ambitious 3-4-3 with goals a necessity, yet an attack usually so prolific found itself thwarted not so much by top-class defending as by a determination on City’s part not to allow their away-goals advantage to slip. As last week, Paris had the better of things in midfield despite Blaise Matuidi’s suspension and then Thiago Motta’s first-half injury, but as they say in England, every City player ‘put in a shift’ and it was perhaps after their most difficult spell that De Bruyne struck.

Can you play each other every week?
Though it might not have been the prettiest football, or the most accomplished, these clubs served up two thrilling ties, mistakes and all. With key defenders missing on both sides, the emphasis was on attack – and the accompanying high tempo was what forced the errors. Perhaps the extra pressure of the teams both wanting to prove their place among the European elite told, but that is not to say there were not cool heads like De Bruyne and Thiago Silva.

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
His recent injury lay-off may have cost City a run at the Premier League title; his return has helped take them into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Few attacks did not go through the Belgium playmaker and just like last week his magnificent finish broke the deadlock. This time, though, there was no time for Paris to recover.

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