Kevin De Bruyne’s late goal secured a Champions League semi-final berth for City who beat Paris St Germain 1-0 at an emotional Etihad Stadium.
The Blues defended magnificently, won all the important duels and were deserved winners on an historic night for the Club who are now tantalisingly close to the final of a competition where legends are made.
Buoyed on by an ecstatic and boisterous sell-out crowd, the Blues were magnificent from front to back and thoroughly deserve to be in the last four of Europe’s elite club competition.
Despite an impressive 2-2 draw at the Parc de Princes last week, nobody was underestimating the magnitude of the task the Blues were facing against the Parisians.
City’s steady Champions League learning curve has earned the right to play in matches of this calibre. Season by season the Blues have got a little closer and made steps forward making the quote by skipper Vincent Kompany a few years back of “We will win the Champions League – it’s not a matter of if, only when,” seem all the more poignant.
So to the action…
With Manuel Pellegrini keeping faith with the side that drew in Paris – and why wouldn’t he? – perhaps the only surprise to the starting XI was the fit-again Yaya Toure’s berth on the subs’ bench.
The Parisians were robbed of David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi through suspension, Marquinhos and Gregory van der Wiel came in.
The match started at the frenetic pace demanded with nether side created a chance of real note in the opening exchanges.
The first real opportunity was a 25-yard free-kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic that Joe Hart did well to tip over as the pair continued their long-running battle of wits.
That was as good as it got for the Ligue 1 champions in the first half as the Blues more than matched Paris in every department and should have gone into the break leading by a couple of goals.
After 22 minutes, a lovely move involving Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero ended with the Argentine shooting a few feet wide – a minute later he went even closer with a wicked angled drive that had Kevin Trapp scrambling across goal as the ball whistled past his right-hand post.
On the half-hour came a potentially pivotal moment in the game.
Fernandinho won possession and immediately spotted Aguero’s darting run. After controlling the ball with his studs, he skipped around Trapp whose trailing leg pulled the City striker down and the referee pointed to the spot.
However, just as Ibrahimovic had done in Paris, Aguero failed to convert the opportunity, striking the ball wide of the right-hand post.
The Blues deserved to be in front at that point, but the hosts’ two away goals meant they still held all the aces.
Jesus Navas curled a shot wide just before the break, setting up a fascinating second-half with the Parisians sure to come out for the goal – at least – they desperately needed.
Indeed, PSG came out with greater intent and Ibrahimovic was given another chance to show off his vast array of free-kick techniques just three minutes after the re-start with the over-fussy referee awarding another questionable foul to the visitors.
This time the Swede drilled a dipping shot to Hart’s right but the City keeper was again equal to it, pushing the ball away with yet another excellent save.
Paris continued to threaten but the City defence, superb all night, continued to keep the stellar talents of Zlatan, Cavani and Di Maria out.
As the clock ticked on, so a goal for either side looked likely to settle the tie – then, with 76 minutes gone, the moment that shook the Etihad to its foundations as De Bruyne found space on the edge of the box and curled a low shot past Trapp to send the City fans wild.
It was just reward for what had been a superb all-round team display and yet more evidence of the Belgian’s , but there was still work to do and Hart again made an excellent stop a few minutes later, denying Cavani as he raced towards goal.
With PSG pushing forward, so the gaps appeared at the back and Aguero went close to doubling the lead – though there were a few hearts in mouths as Ibrahimovic finally beat Hart from close range, only to be denied by the assistant referee’s flag.
That was as close as PSG came with the Blues comfortably seeing out the final minutes. The roar that met the final whistle was something special – now for the semis…