In a contest that was billed as a star-studded meeting at the Etihad on Wednesday night, Manchester City mounted a comeback on home soil as they secured a 2-1 victory against French giants PSG.
While RB Leipzig’s 5-0 romp away at Club Brugge might have secured both of City’s and PSG’s tickets in the knockout stage of this year’s tournament, the Sky Blues did clinch top spot in Group A.
With Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus writing off Kylian Mbappe’s second-half opener, we have taken a look at the major talking points as Manchester City gained some perfect revenge following their 2-0 loss away in Paris from back in September.
Pep gets his tactics spot on
Marking their return from November’s international break with a 3-0 romp against Everton as they picked up some perfect momentum over the weekend, Manchester City really came flying out the traps on Wednesday night.
While Pep Guardiola’s men might have been without the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and £100million summer arrival Jack Grealish, the defending Premier League champions didn’t miss a beat.
With Oleksandr Zinchenko slipping in at the heart of City’s midfield, their first-half display only underlined why many have tipped the Sky Blues as a leading pick to claim their first European crown this season.
Although the former Bayern Munich boss might have been disappointed to have seen both Achraf Hakimi and Marquinhos deny them a pair of first-half strikes with two sublime blocks, Wednesday’s guests weren’t to be denied.
While fans around the Etihad might have been shocked to have seen Mbappe hand PSG a shock lead five minutes after the restart, Guardiola’s call to almost immediately bring Jesus off the bench was a real game-changer.
With England international Sterling poking his effort over the line just 13 minutes after Mbappe’s opener, the English heavyweights took a more than deserved lead as Jesus finished off Bernardo Silva’s smart cut-back.
A more than worthy winner on Wednesday night, City will now have their sights set on going one step further than their 1-0 loss against Chelsea in last season’s Champions League final back in May.
Poch’s Manchester return comes crashing down
Claiming that 2-0 victory when they welcomed Manchester City to the French capital for their reverse meeting back in September, PSG would have been desperate to pull off another upset.
However, while the French giants might have boasted an attacking trio of Mbappe, Neymar and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, Mauricio Pochettino’s side were largely second-best at the Etihad.
Lucky to have entered the half-time break not chasing a deficit, even Mbappe’s opener five minutes after the interval wasn’t enough to offer Wednesday’s traveling support any real comfort that they could leave with maximum points.
Heavily outplayed and not really gaining any foothold in City’s final third, the former Tottenham boss would have known that he also missed out on a real chance to mark his English return with a statement.
With City’s 2-1 victory at the Etihad handing them top spot in Group A, more questions will only be asked about Pochettino’s future at Le Parc des Princes.
While the 49-year-old manager might have only arrived in the French capital 11 months ago, Poch remains heavily linked with a lucrative Premier League return at Manchester United.
Parting ways with now-former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær over the weekend, reports from across Europe have suggested that Pochettino has his heart set on pushing through a move to Old Trafford.
What’s next for both?
Managing to secure their eye-catching turnaround victory on Wednesday night, there is no doubt that Manchester City have really put their October wobble behind them.
Appearing to have refound their best form and now winning each of their last four matchups across all competitions, Guardiola’s men will now have their sights set on trying to make up some ground in the Premier League title hunt.
Before the Sky Blues sign off their Group A run away at RB Leipzig on December 7th, City will be next seen this weekend when they welcome West Ham to the Etihad.
On the flip side throwing away their chance to book their spot in the knockout stage as Group A champions, PSG and Pochettino will now simply be trying to find a domestic boost when they travel to Saint-Etienne on Sunday lunchtime.
Although the French giants might still find themselves holding a commanding 11-point buffer at the top of the Ligue 1 table, it remains to be seen how much longer their manager will be in the dugout.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Diaz, Cancelo, Zinchenko, Rodri, Gündoğan, Silva, Sterling, Mahrez
PSG: Navas, Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes, Gueye, Parades, Herrera, Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
Subs: Di Maria, Danilo, Kehrer
Goals: Manchester City: Sterling 63′, Jesus 76′ – PSG: Mbappe 50′
Yellow Cards: Rodri, Cancelo, Jesus
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Daniele Orsato