Thibault Camus/Associated Press
It was a tale of two halves in the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.
PSG bossed the first half, getting on the board from a Marquinhos header. But Manchester City came roaring back behind tallies from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez. And now City will take a 2-1 lead—and more crucially, two away goals—back to Manchester.
Below, we’ll break down the winners and losers from the contest.
Winner: Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne clearly wasn’t trying to score himself when City got their second-half equalizer. But his cross into the box was put in such a perfect spot—and such a tough angle for goalkeeper Keylor Navas—that it found the back of the net anyway.
There’s the old saying that it’s better to be lucky than good. Sometimes you’re so damn good, though, that luck has no choice but to do your bidding.
De Bruyne is one such player. There are other stars around the world that have a larger profile, or who score flashier goals. Very few are actually better, however.
Winner: Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez’s goal, on the other hand, was very much intended to wind up in the back of the net. And it did just that:
Truth be told, this wasn’t a particularly great effort from Mahrez. It probably should have been blocked by the wall, and it wasn’t tucked neatly into a corner beyond Navas’ ability to stop.
He won’t care. You put the ball on goal, good things can happen. Game-winning, second away-goal good things.
Loser: Keylor Navas
Navas had a bit of a howler.
On the first goal, he seemed stuck between two minds. Anticipate the flight of the cross and risk a redirection from one of City’s players peeling toward the cross. Stay at the center of the goal to protect against a redirection and, well, we all saw what happened.
On the second goal, again, his wall could have done better. That’s why the wall is there in the first place. But a better reaction and Navas handles a stoppable shot.
It’s hard to put the entirety of the loss on Navas. But he more than played his part.
Loser: Idrissa Gueye
Any chance PSG had of equalizing in the final 15 minutes was snuffed out by Idrissa Gueye’s absolutely shambolic tackle of Ilkay Gundogan:
Dreadful, dreadful stuff. He’ll miss the second match, and he made it next to impossible for his team to get a second goal on Wednesday.
Loser: Mauricio Pochettino
PSG absolutely bossed the first half. They were resplendent. It looked like PSG were headed for a big night.
But Pep Guardiola made all of the right adjustments at half time. Mauricio Pochettino, on the other hand, did not. City ramped up their pressure and denied Kylian Mbappe and Neymar from getting on the ball. PSG conceded much more possession to City seemed happier sitting further back in its half. And that was the difference:
The result is that PSG have a huge task on their hands in Manchester, needing to win 2-1 just to force extra time. They are capable of doing so—they put three away goals on Bayern Munich—but it’s an enormous ask against Guardiola’s composed, tactically sound charges.