Manchester City reached their first UEFA Champions League final when a Riyad Mahrez double defeated Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.
Mahrez added two more goals to his goal in a 2-1 win in the first leg in Paris as Man City was left with comfortable victories in Manchester against Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG, who were beaten well in 180 minutes.
Mahrez scored a goal in each half after City’s well-crafted moves, and as in the first leg with Idrissa Gueye’s red card, PSG fell apart when Angel Di Maria saw red for a lunge on Fernandinho as the spirits were overflowing.
The sweeping victories over PSG are a vindication of Pep Guardiola’s audacious decision to play without a recognized center forward in any of the heats, and the Catalan mastermind is now one victory away from lifting the trophy he won three times in Barcelona. Once as a player, and twice as a coach.
PSG took a hit to their hopes of mounting a comeback in the second leg even before the game started: Kylian Mbappé had doubts about an injury before the game but was only fit enough for a spot on the bench.
PSG thought they had won an early penalty when Bjorn Kuipers signaled the spot for an apparent handball by an incredulous Oleksandr Zinchenko, but after a quick VAR review, it was clear that the ball had hit City’s left-back shoulder.
Zinchenko channeled that fury in the best possible way shortly thereafter, making a sprint run for a long ball in the style of a quarterback from goalkeeper Ederson at the rear down the left. He lifted Kevin De Bruyne, whose deflected shot fell kindly for Mahrez to slide the ball under Keylor Navas to make it 3-1 on aggregate.
PSG immediately went looking for the two goals they always needed: Marquinhos, who scored in the first leg, headed off the crossbar, while Angel Di María somehow scored after pinching possession with Ederson stranded.
City entered the interval two points clear on aggregate, although PSG still needed two goals away from home, the fact that Mbappé did not appear in the interval says a lot about his physical condition.
The likes of John Stones, Zinchenko, and Ruben Dias made a series of impressive blocks to keep PSG at bay, and City mercilessly intercepted PSG on the counter while De Bruyne and Phil Foden worked the ball brilliantly for Mahrez to do hit the back post.
PSG knew the game was over when Angel Di María saw red for a senseless kick at Fernandinho for a throw-in, while the risk for City was that they would get trapped and potentially see players suspended for the final.
Fortunately for Guardiola, his players kept their heads and can now dream of a final against Chelsea or Real Madrid in Istanbul on May 29.