Manchester City are into the Champions League semi-finals for the first time after Kevin De Bruyne’s fine curving shot ended the challenge of Paris Saintt Germain in the last eight for the fourth year running.
City started as if keen to build on the away-goals edge given them by last week’s 2-2 draw in Paris, pressing back their visitors. Paris, however, held their nerve and from their first attack Edinson Cavani nearly got onto Ángel Di María’s through ball. Zlatan Ibrahimović then tested Joe Hart with a 30-metre free-kick, the City goalkeeper tipping over at full stretch.
On the half-hour, though, City passed up a golden opportunity to take a firm grip on the tie after Sergio Agüero was felled by Kevin Trapp. The Argentinian picked himself up to take the kick himself – only to put it a metre wide of the left-hand post.
With Paris struggling to muster much by way of attacking threat, City almost capitalised on some casual defending before the interval, Jesús Navas seizing on Serge Aurier’s loose pass but curling narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
The second half began in similar vein to the first, Hart diving to his right to keep out another stinging Ibrahimović free-kick before the goalkeeper clawed out Thiago Silva’s downward header from a corner.
Paris were largely struggling to create clear chances, however, and paid the price with 14 minutes remaining. City worked the ball from left to right and back again, and Fernando’s square pass gave De Bruyne the opportunity to sidestep into space.
The visitors might have responded immediately as Cavani raced clear but Hart spread himself well and blocked the strike. And with that, Paris’s last hope had gone – and the City celebrations could start in earnest.
While was a historic night for the blue side of Manchester, it was a disaster for PSG. A domestic treble this season will not compensate that for the fourth consecutive time they have failed to get into the semi-finals. For a club that has spent as much as PSG has over the last three seasons, to not be making any progress in this competition has to be frustrating to PSG’s Qatar investors.
PSG have already secured their fourth straight Ligue 1 title, but the club were hoping to improve their performance in Europe, and Blanc was upset to fall short of expectations.
“When you don’t go through to the next round you regret absolutely everything,” he said. “Of course when you win no one asks any questions.
“We had certain tactics and strategies in mind but we couldn’t always implement them as efficiently as we wanted over the two games. We have shown our limitations over the two games, both tactically and technically.
“What we did over the course of the tie wasn’t enough and we very much regret that.
“We thought we were going to cause them more problems tonight but they were good in defence and very compact. Over the course of the two games, we understand that City probably deserved to qualify.”