Match Report

City into Champions League semi-final after superb comeback

City into Champions League semi-final after superb comeback
Champions League
Champions League
Wed 14 Apr
1
2
Jude Bellingham 
(15’)
Riyad Mahrez 
(55’), 
Phil Foden 
(75’)
View highlights
City came from behind with a stunning second-half display to end the Champions League quarter-final jinx in style.

Trailing to an early Jude Bellingham strike, second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden secured a fully deserved 2-1 victory as we move into the last four of the competition for only the second time in our history.

Now, Paris St Germain and City will battle it out for a place in next month’s Champions League final.

What happened?

The last thing City wanted was to concede an early goal and tilt the axis in Borussia Dortmund’s favour, but that’s exactly what happened when the Bundesliga side went ahead on 15 minutes.

When City failed to clear an early Dortmund attack, the ball eventually found its way to Jude Bellingham who arrowed a shot onto the top right-hand corner of the net, despite a commendable effort from Ederson.

It changed the whole complexion of the second leg, with Dortmund now ahead on the away goals rule.

Kevin De Bruyne was desperately unlucky on 28 minutes when he dispossessed Dortmund’s Ajanki on the edge of the box before thumping a powerful drive against the underside of the crossbar.

Though City didn’t completely dominate the remainder of the half, with a 61%-39% possession stat in our favour, it told the story of the half, though tellingly, there was just one shot on target.

The equation was very simple – City had to score or face elimination at the quarter-final stage for a fourth year in succession.

Seven minutes into the second-half and Dortmund’s resistance was finally broken when Phil Foden’s cross was handled by Emre Can in the box – the referee pointed to the spot and after a lengthy VAR review, the decision was upheld and Riyad Mahrez kept his nerve to  strike the equaliser home confidently.

Now Dortmund needed to score to stay in the competition which meant changing their defensive mindset for the time that remained.

De Bruyne went close on 74 minutes, wriggling his way through a couple of challenges before seeing a low drive well saved by Hitz – but in the same passage of play, City got the goal that settled the tie.

From a corner on the right, Mahrez found Bernardo and the Portuguese spotted Foden free on the edge of the box and played it to feet and Foden did the rest, hitting a crisp low drive in off the foot of the right-hand post to put City 2-1 up on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

The celebrations that followed were emotional and uplifting, as Foden raced to the bench to enjoy the moment with his team-mates and manager.

City had two or three chances to score more goals, but nobody was complaining - it was a case of job very well done.

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Champions League

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Man City

Haaland threat quelled

Make no mistake about it, keeping Erling Braut Haaland quiet for 180 minutes is no mean feat.

City defenders knew that stopping Europe’s most prolific striker over both legs was crucial to progressing to the semi-final.

And that’s what happened – so take a bow Ruben Dias, John Stones, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Oleks Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo.

Haaland will continue to be a huge thorn in the side of many defences for years to come because he is a genuine tour-de-force of a talent.

But over these two legs, he met a committed and focused defence – and team - who knew how key the 20-year-old was to Dortmund’s chances.

Champions League – how’s your luck?

Think Leroy Sane’s disallowed goal versus Liverpool. Then think of Llorente’s goal for Spurs that seemed to go in off his arm.

Then there was the disallowed Raheem Sterling goal against Spurs and an overturned penalty against Dortmund…

Not all the above decisions were correct – some were, some definitely weren’t and some were contentious – and there have been others.

So, were City due a rub of the green from VAR? Emre Can headed the ball against his own arm and the TV replays were studied by officials closely – ultimately, because Can had his arm out as he went to head it, the decision from the on-field referee stood and Mahrez scored.

Let’s hope this puts our Champions League misfortune with some VAR decisions to bed.

STAT ZONE 

Phil Foden is only the fifth Englishman to score in both legs of a Champions League quarter-final. Peter Crouch, Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard are the others.

City's only other Champions League semi-final was against Real Madrid in 2016 - the Spaniard's winning 1-0 on aggregate over two legs.

Riyad Mahrez's penalty was his first UCL goal for 18 months.

Star man: Kevin De Bruyne

Is there a better, more influential midfielder in world football right now?

What it means…

City are in the Champions League semi-finals where Paris St Germain await.

The first leg, in France, will take place on Wednesday 28 April, with kick off at 20:00 (UK time).

And the return leg at the Etihad is scheduled for Tuesday 4 May at 20:00 (UK time). 

What’s next?

City take on in-form Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Kick-off is 5.30pm on Saturday.

Pep reaction

"For the club, it is so important. We cannot deny it.

"This comp is tough mentally. You are working for 10 months and you for one goal, one mistake, you are out.

"We cannot judge what these guys have done in five years by going through in one competition.

"Saying that, psychologically, for all the players, staff, the chairman, CEO, getting to the quarter finals is necessary.

"Of course we want more. We are going to play PSG, the finalists last year against Bayern. We know how tough they are.

"We will see how they work. It is a good moment for all of us, especially the players.

"We cannot forget, in the five years we are together, we are three times out of the UCL.

"The players suffer the same as the backroom staff and all the people working in the club.

"They are huge competitors and they want to make the next step and they did.

"Next season we will be in the UCL, because we already qualified. We are in the Carabao Cup final, we need three victories to be Premier League champions.

"That’s why it is important to continue in this way."

Teams

City XI: Ederson, Walker, Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Foden, Bernardo, Mahrez (Sterling 88)

Subs: Steffen, Trafford, Ake, Jesus, Laporte, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Cancelo, Garcia

Dortmund: Hitz, Morey, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro, Bellingham (Brandt 81), Can, Dahoud (T Hazard 76), Knauff (Reyna 68), Haaland, Reus

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