It was arguably the worst defensive showing by four center-half’s in Champions League history. While PSG boss Laurent Blanc and Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini, former center-backs themselves, were left looking aghast at the performance of their defenders on Wednesday, the defensive problems created an exciting Champions League quarter-finals in Paris on Wednesday night.
The 2-2 draw had a little bit of everything, but it will be Pellegrini who will be the happier of the two managers as he heads home with two valuable away goals and history on their side. Teams that get a scoring draw away from home in the first leg have progressed to the next round more than 79% of the time.
Imagine the irony here if Pellegrini guides his side into the Champions League semi-finals while his successor Pep Guardiola sees his side eliminated at this stage of the competition.
City’s opening goal started from a misplaced pass; the equalizer was a sloppy defensive calamity as poor as any passage of play the competition has seen; City went to sleep for PSG’s second; a botched defensive clearance invited them back into the game for the draw.
The only surprise in a game of great untidiness was that Sergio Aguero should play such a small part in it, particularly after David Luiz was booked for fouling him just 14 seconds in. One would think he might play havoc from there — instead Kevin De Bruyne was at the heart of what was best about City last night, while Fernandinho was Johnny-on-the-spot, making the first goal, scoring the second and at fault for one of PSG’s, too.
The wooden spoon however goes to Fernando, whose blooper to let PSG back in the game should have come with its own laugh track.
So City have good reason to feel confident, but reason to fear also. Defend like this again in Tuesday’s second leg, and it is really anybody’s game. A replica scoreline certainly couldn’t be ruled out, with two teams primed to attack but vulnerable defensively.
If PSG go out of the competition next week, Blanc will look back at the first leg and the mistakes his side made:
“Two mistakes allowed Man City to score goals that are, as you know, very important away from home. That’s our biggest regret,” he said.
“I think we conceded goals from the only two chances they had but we could have scored three or four ourselves.
“We should have netted earlier than we did, but we missed a penalty and then went on to concede two goals.
“We knew City had three very dangerous players in attack, but I’m convinced that we can secure a positive result in Manchester if we limit our errors.”