Ruben Dias produces a defensive masterclass once again as Manchester City advance to the Champions League final with a 4-1 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain.
The Premier League leaders were heading into this game on the back of a 2-1 away advantage, so the objective was to see out the game defensively as PSG attacked early, trying to pressure the opposing defence into making a mistake.
While Les Parisiens did cause a lot of problems, Manchester City stayed rock solid. It frustrated the PSG attackers and it was only a matter of time when Riyad Mahrez netted the opener inside the 11th minute.
The goal gave Manchester City the incentive to just remain deep, further frustrating the PSG side that once again lacked composure. They were eventually rewarded with a second goal, with Mahrez once again netting around the 63rd minute.
Hell soon broke loose for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, with Angel Di Maria picking up a red midway through the second half. PSG were, in fact, lucky not to concede a third goal, as Manchester City saw out their 2-0 victory – sealing the tie by an aggregate score of 4-1.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over both these sides in this fiercely contested semi-final encounter at the Etihad this midweek.
Ederson’s marvellous long ball to set up the opener was the highlight of the goalkeeper’s performance tonight. A real bonus on Manchester City’s part to have a goalkeeper who is capable of doing such things, although the teammates more than made up for it with their defensive support.
Kyle Walker: 9/10
Kyle Walker more than held his own in dealing with the likes of Angel Di Maria and Neymar. His pace was a real asset for Manchester City when it came to ball recovery, although the right-back’s job was made easier by the absence of Kylian Mbappe.
John Stones: 9.5/10
John Stones offered marvellous defensive support, not only to Ruben Dias but also Walker on the right hand side. He was sublime in reading the game, emerging as one of the best performers on the night.
Ruben Dias: 10/10
Ruben Dias was undisputedly the best player in this game, producing one of the best defensive performances in the Champions League history. He was a rock at the back, making plenty of blocks and keeping the likes of Neymar, Icardi and Di Maria at bay all at once. The Portuguese international was deservedly awarded the MOTM.
Ruben Dias’ vs. PSG:
100% tackles won
90% pass accuracy
MOTM performance from the 23-year-old ? pic.twitter.com/zj7wXE1qJQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 4, 2021
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 9.5/10
Pep Guardiola’s decision to start with Oleksandr Zinchenko paid off once again. The youngster remained composed at the back, dealing well with the threat of Di Maria. He also provided excellent aid going forward.
Riyad Mahrez: 9/10
Riyad Mahrez was always a threat down the right hand side, especially with his clever runs into the PSG penalty box. He was rewarded with two goals as well and might have bagged more.
Fernandinho produced a commendable display in the middle of the park. Although the Brazilian struggled in duels, he used his experience to rile up the PSG players, causing them to lose their composure and appear sloppy in their play. He single-handedly won the red card for Di Maria.
Most fouls, tackles and challenges lost (12) for Fernandinho in a game since the start of 2018-19
— Tom Worville (@Worville) May 4, 2021
Ilkay Gundogan: 7.5/10
Ilkay Gundogan performed well in the middle of the park for Manchester City. He distributed possession, though the German wasn’t able to offer the usual security in possession and was somewhat bested by Verratti.
Phil Foden: 9.5/10
Phil Foden was an absolute menace down the left hand side, causing all sorts of problems for Florenzi and the PSG defence, with his silky footwork, dynamism and pace. The Man City winger is certainly the next big thing for England and could achieve great things for his country.
Phil Foden with a Lionel Messi esque kind of dribble. pic.twitter.com/vG1T9fJIjk
— Stan (@FutbolStan_) May 4, 2021
Kevin De Bruyne: 9/10
Kevin De Bruyne was once again the jewel of this Manchester City team. The Belgian covered a lot of ground, often looking for an opening and it paid off too as he released a brilliant pass to free Foden in behind the PSG backline for the second goal.
Bernardo Silva: 7.5/10
Bernardo Silva worked hard to keep the PSG defenders busy while offering himself as a passing option for his teammates in the final third. Not the best of performers for the Citizens, though.
Raheem Sterling: N/A
A late replacement for Silva. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Gabriel Jesus: N/A
A late replacement for De Bruyne. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Sergio Aguero: N/A
A late replacement for Foden. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Keylor Navas: 5/10
Keylor Navas was absolutely horrendous in between the PSG sticks. He should have done much better to keep out Mahrez’s opener, and though he did improve as the game progressed, it was simply not a good display from the ex-Real Madrid star.
Alessandro Florenzi: 4/10
Alessandro Florenzi had major problems dealing with the threat of Foden on the far side. He simply wasn’t good enough defensively, while also failing to offer anything going forward.
Marquinhos looked the most composed in the PSG backline even when they were getting completely dominated. Also hit the crossbar early on in the game, but one could definitely blame the Brazilian for a lack of leadership.
Presnel Kimpembe: 2/10
Presnel Kimpembe was horrific in PSG defence. He had problems keeping up with Mahrez and lost his cool as the game progressed. Deservedly booked for an overly aggressive challenge on Gabriel.
Kimpembe booked. Honestly, fortunate that it was only that & that there was no injury there. #UCL
— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) May 4, 2021
Abdou Diallo: 3/10
Abdou Diallo looked defensively stable in the early stages of the game. However, the former Dortmund man struggled to contain the threat of Mahrez as the game progressed as well as making some poor decisions.
Ander Herrera: 3/10
A man who was supposed to offer calmness to the PSG midfield, Ander Herrera struggled to offer anything to the table. In fact, the Spaniard picked up a yellow needlessly and was replaced around the hour mark.
Leandro Paredes: 4/10
Leandro Paredes struggled to impact the game other than his occasional forward passes. He wasn’t quality enough to get the better of the Manchester City setup.
Marco Verratti: 6.5/10
Marco Verratti was perhaps the pick of the PSG players. The Italian international recycled the ball well, releasing multiple forward balls while also dealing well in half-spaces. However, he lacked temperament late in the game.
Angel Di Maria: 1/10
Angel Di Maria simply could not replicate his first-half performance in the first-leg, looking completely clueless up against Zinchenko on the far side. Picked up a red card for stomping on Fernandinho.
Di Maria straight red for stomping on Fernandinho. Deserved. Commentators blame it on "Latino Temperament."
— Catalan Cowboy (@CatalanCowboy) May 4, 2021
Mauro Icardi: 1/10
Mauro Icardi offered noting to the table after being given the nod ahead of the likes of Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe, though the latter wasn’t fully fit. Shouldn’t have started the game at all.
Mauro Icardi reportedly doesn't watch football. There's actually very little evidence that he even likes football. And based on his level of involvement in that first half he may actually be allergic to football
— Andres Cordero (@DreCordero) May 4, 2021
Neymar will be made the eventually scapegoat after this PSG defeat. The Brazilian, though, was objectively a decent performer, offering good ball progression. He did lack support from his teammates as the Manchester City defenders doubled down on him.
Moise Kean: 5/10
Moise Kean held the ball up well after coming on for Icardi. Might have done a bit more, had the youngster started the game instead of the Argentine.
Julian Draxler: 5/10
Julian Draxler did not offer much to the table after coming on for Herrera around the hour mark. He wasn’t helped by his teammates either, particularly after Di Maria’s red card.
Colin Dagba: 5/10
A late replacement for Florenzi. Should have started the game due to his defensive credentials.
Danilo Pereira: N/A
A late replacement for Paredes. Made a horrendous tackle and lost his cool.
Mitchell Bakker: N/A
A late replacement for Diallo. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.