November 25, (THEWILL) – Manchester City won Group A and advanced to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as group leaders after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad.
On his 50th UCL appearance, Kylian Mbappe scored his ninth goal of the season to put the visitors ahead early in the second half, before Raheem Sterling equalised in the 63rd minute.
After Neymar wasted a wonderful opportunity to put PSG back in ahead, City’s Gabriel Jesus completed a fine team play to seal the victory.
For the majority of the first half, Manchester City held PSG parked in their own half, with six shots which could have worsened the day quickly for the visitors, but it was Ilkay Gundogan who had the finest chance to put City ahead around the half-hour mark.
Nuno Mendes made a hasty clearance of Joao Cancelo’s dangerous cross before the Germany international had his strike clang off Keylor Navas’s left post. Riyad Mahrez attempted a curling shot into the bottom corner moments later, but the Costa Rican international deftly parried it aside.
PSG are usually dangerous on the break, and Mbappe was put through on goal by Neymar shortly before the break, but his curling effort looped harmlessly over the bar.
Five minutes into the second half, the visitors broke the deadlock against the run of play. Mbappe calmly put the ball into the net through Ederson’s knees after Messi’s deflected pass landed to his feet.
But, just past the hour mark, City got a well-deserved equaliser. At the far post, Sterling calmly tucked in a dangerous cross from Kyle Walker.
After a nice one-two with Angel Di Maria, Neymar could and arguably should have put PSG ahead again ten minutes later, but his close-range drive went narrowly past the post.
And the former Barcelona striker was quickly made to pay for his error by Brazil teammate Jesus, who scored from close range to give City the merited victory.
The win means City finish top of their UCL group for the fifth straight season, becoming only the second English team to accomplish this feat in the current version of the league, following neighbours and city rivals Manchester United.
Furthermore, Mbappe’s strike made him the 11th player to score 20 UEFA Champions League goals away from home, and he did so in only his 23rd away appearance, fewer than any of the previous ten players.
City now has 12 points in the group and has qualified for the knockout stages. With eight points, PSG will have to settle for second place.