Football Features

“The best midfielder in Europe this season” – Player ratings as Man City come from behind to beat PSG in a historic Champions League win

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:23, 28 April 2021

In a game of two halves, Manchester City came from behind to beat 10-man PSG 1-2 in the Champions League semi-final first-leg.

The win is City’s first ever in the final four and puts Pep Guardiola’s men into a superb position to make their first Champions League final. City weren’t exactly clinical and owed much to their greater control putting PSG under such sustained pressure that they cracked, twice. Defensive errors from City’s opponents? Could this finally be their year?

Here’s how the players rated at the Parc des Princes:

PSG

Keylor Navas – 4 – Was an imposing presence in the first half but folded like cheap paper in the second. His weak, static goalkeeping to allow Kevin De Bruyne’s cross go in sparked an epic PSG collapse.

Alessandro Florenzi – 4 – Probed well in the first half but was a non-event after half time. City had so much joy down his flank.

Marquinhos – 8 – A colossus yet again, both in terms of defending his own box and then scoring the opening goal of the night. Battled manfully as his team-mates disintegrated around him.

Presnel Kimpembe – 4 – A flat performance where his team-mates covered for him but his failure to even contest the cross that led to City’s goal was so bad, an error only made to look alright by the way in which he bent his body out of the way of Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick when he was in the wall. A true disasterclass.

Mitchel Bakker – 7 – Really solid down the left, showing no defensive weakness.

Idrissa Gueye – 3 – Ran and pressed a bunch but predictably lost his head once City started passing with precision. Got sent off for a horrific challenge on Gundogan. They should have sent him off twice.

Leandro Paredes – 6 – Smooth as anything in the first half but completely overwhelmed by City in the second.

Marco Verratti – 6 – A battling presence all game long but notably tired as it wore on.

Angel Di Maria – 7 – Simply sublime at carrying the ball forward and feeding the forwards. An excellent corner to create the opener.

Neymar – 7 – Dominated the first half like you wouldn’t believe but vanished in the second period as City choked off his supply. Descended back to his over-dribbling and petty fouling worst.

Kylian Mbappé – 4 – Largely ineffective throughout the night. Some nice moves but nothing of consequence. Maybe he just doesn’t like playing clubs from Manchester?

Substitutes:

Danilo (for Di Maria 79′) – 5 – Came on to re-balance the side after the red card.

Ander Herrera (for Paredes 80′) – 5 – Added little.


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Manchester City

Ederson – 7 – Absolutely excellent. Made saves and sweeper interventions to keep PSG at bay.

Kyle Walker – 7 – Ripped apart in the first half but really stepped up in the second to help secure City’s comeback.

John Stones – 7 – Defended well.

Ruben Dias – 7 – Absolutely colossal in open play, buffering and neutralising Neymar and Mbappé especially in the second half. Really struggled to defend the near post on corners, however, and misjudged his jump which led to PSG’s opener. And that has to mark him down.

Joao Cancelo – 7 – Simply relentless. Had to be taken off to protect him he was so determined and driven. Five tackles was a game-high.

Rodri – 8 – Started with some nerves and it let PSG get on top of City. Pushed himself and thus City’s midfield higher up in the second half and as a result the rest of the team locked into the rhythm Ilkay Gundogan was already on. When Rodri and Gundogan harmonised, City took complete control.

Ilkay Gundogan – 9 – Absolutely masterful. Was City’s lone bright spark in the first half and then finally his team-mates got on his level after the break. Gundogan looked destined to become one of the world’s best midfielders back in 2013 but injuries held him back. Well now he’s finally on that pedestal and tonight he was looking down on everyone.

Completed 103 of a ridiculous 107 passes – he completed more passes in the PSG half (69) than any PSG player attempted across the whole pitch (Marquinhos, 68). He played no direct part in either of City’s goals but this comeback and win belonged to him. The best midfielder in Europe this season.

Kevin De Bruyne – 8 – Didn’t really play well in the first half but upped his game after the break as he targeted Florenzi’s channel a lot more and suddenly things started working for him. His bewitching cross went all the way into the back of the net and then suddenly all his flicks and passes were coming off. If he can play like that for a full game City will walk their way to Istanbul.

Riyad Mahrez – 8 – Looked a menace whenever he dribbled at PSG and then rattled in a free-kick (albeit thanks to an awful wall) to give City their first-ever win in the Champions League semi-finals.

Bernardo Silva – 5 – Utterly inconsequential.

Phil Foden – 7 – Very bright. A constant outlet for Pep’s passing system. Completed three dribbles and was always alive. Should have scored twice but shot straight at Navas both times.

Substitutes:

Oleksandr Zinchenko (for Cancelo 61′) – 7 – Came off the bench to provide a greater balance on the City left. Completed 24/25 passes but most importantly his left-footedness gave City’s passing carousel a greater rhythm.