Advantage Man City after chaotic clash with PSG in Paris
Joe Hart in the thick of it as he saves a penalty and concedes two, but City score priceless away goals
Paris Saint-Germain 2 Manchester City 2.
Manchester City's first appearance in a Champions League quarter-final produced a breathless encounter and one which ended to their advantage. Two away goals against Paris Saint-Germain leaves the Sky Blues as slight favourites ahead of the return leg at the Etihad on Tuesday.
It's nothing less than City deserve after playing with courage and character in the French capital. "It was a crazy game", admitted City keeper Joe Hart, who played his part in the madness by saving a first-half penalty from Zlatan Ibrahimovic after David Luiz had been tripped by Bacary Sagna.
Not long after Hart's intervention City took the lead against the run of play, the visitors launching a swift counter-attack that ended with Kevin de Bruyne's firing home Fernandinho's intelligent pass.
But three minutes later PSG were level after an error by Fernando that would have embarrassed a Sunday league footballer. Receiving Hart's clearance kick on the edge of the City box, Fernando dawdled too long on the ball, somehow oblivious to the looming presence of Ibrahimovic. Too late he saw the danger and when he tried to clear the ball hit Ibrahimovic's boot and rolled into the open net.
"It was a terrible first goal for us to concede after being 1-0 up," said Hart. "I've given Fernando the ball and he obviously thought there was an option to pass inside and the big man put his size 15s on it and it went in."
Hart, though, must take his fair share of the blame for passing to a defender with his back to play and Ibrahimovic in close attendance, and not scrambling to cover his goal.
PSG dominated the opening minutes of the second half and Adrien Rabiot gave the French side the lead on the hour when he was first to the loose ball after Hart blocked Edinson Cavani's initial header from a corner. The French side then subjected City to a sustained period of pressure with Ibrahimovic hitting the bar and Angel di Maria firing just wide.
The Sky Blues held out, however, and then PSG started to visibly flag, perhaps unused to playing the full 90 minutes in a domestic league they have dominated since day one of the season. City sensed their opponents wilting and Fernandinho grabbed the equaliser on 72 minutes when his scuffed shot took a deflection and found the corner of the PSG net.
It was almost as bad as the goal City had conceded, with the ball ricocheting off defenders Serge Aurier and Thiago Silva before landing at the feet of Fernandinho, whose effort trickled over the line.
"Two away goals is great," said Hart. "We are making history for this club and we don't want it to end. I am proud of the back four tonight."
It wasn't the best of nights for PSG, who not only conceded two away goals but also saw David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi pick up yellow cards, sanctions that will rule them out of the return leg next week.
"I don't know if we were weak but there were many mistakes in terms of building up our play and in two of these mistakes it allowed Man City to score important away goals," said coach Laurent Blanc. "This is our main regret. We made mistakes we're not used to but maybe it's the quality of this City team and the way they pressed us."
Both managers were less than impressed by the errors made by their teams, but when talk in the post-match press conference turned to the return leg at the Etihad, Manuel Pellegrini refused to countenance the idea that City now have the advantage.
"I don't think that we are favourites, not before the game and not after this game," he told reporters. "We have a difficult 90 minutes in Manchester but I'm happy about the result tonight."