After winning the first leg on foreign soil last week, Manchester City created history last night by galloping into the Champions League final after seeing off Paris Saint-Germain in a lively semifinal second leg.
Despite the unseasonal snow and hail that swept over the Etihad, two goals from Riyad Mahrez saw City claim a 2-0 victory on the night, thus sending them through 4-1 on aggregate.
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The win was City’s seventh in a row in this season’s competition, setting a new record for an English club.
City will now face either Real Madrid or Premier League rivals Chelsea in Istanbul on May 29, 12 years after losing out on the chance to play at the Ataturk Stadium in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup final.
We got to Istanbul in the end, lads! 💙
🔷 #ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re pic.twitter.com/nK5RtoTc3v
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 4, 2021
City have come a long way since then, muscling their way into the elite of the game both at home and abroad, and they have now reached the Champions League final at the 10th attempt.
City winning only their second-ever Champions League semifinal represented a watershed moment and, as you might imagine, the ensuing celebrations got wild. City’s players invoked the spirit of Mufasa & Hypeman by singing “It’s Friday then it’s Saturday, Sunday (What!)” like their lives depended on it, before Benjamin Mendy took things up a notch by bringing a chair on to the impromptu dance floor.
Thankfully, United States goalkeeper Zack Steffen was on hand to capture the party atmosphere inside the locker room for posterity.
Istanbul baby! 💙 #UCL @ManCity pic.twitter.com/BOmqSPRHOO
— Zack Steffen (@zacksteffen_) May 4, 2021
Mahrez is arguably enjoying his best spell since signing for City but, despite scoring three of City’s four goals in the semifinal, the Algeria international was not getting carried away.
Road to the Final 🤲🏼 the most important is now #elhamdulillah ☝🏼 pic.twitter.com/xpMKu1iwBO
— Riyad Mahrez (@Mahrez22) May 4, 2021
Kevin De Bruyne celebrated with a simple message after seeing City get knocked out of the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage for the previous three seasons.
Final bound!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/LJDdQlXWy3
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) May 4, 2021
Kyle Walker took the opportunity to wish teammate Fernandinho a very happy 36th birthday, and the veteran midfielder responded by thanking everybody for the birthday wishes.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL 🇹🇷
Get in there boys!
Now that’s a happy birthday @fernandinho
🦈 💙@mancity #mancity #ucl pic.twitter.com/Nz5rl8S3w8
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 4, 2021
We did it. 💪🏾 Congratulations to everyone in the club. Let’s keep pushing, there’s a lot of work ahead. What a birthday party I had today. THANK YOU ALL 💙 pic.twitter.com/gV3Lwi8Vtw
— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) May 4, 2021
Ruben Dias put in another monumental shift at the heart of City’s defence, earning the Man of the Match award after a performance in which he made three blocks, three clearances and won 100% of his tackles.
Proud of this team! Let’s go @mancity ! Very happy to be considered man of the match! 🦈👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/mpuCGsUCy7
— Rúben Dias (@rubendias) May 4, 2021
Phil Foden also continued on his ascent, impressing with yet another assured and pivotal performance. The 20-year-old was still in his last year at junior school the last time Pep Guardiola reached a Champions League final (with Barcelona in 2011), but now he is drawing praise from his fellow England international, Declan Rice.
Foden is very very special💫🤝
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) May 4, 2021
Former City players Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta took to social media to congratulate the class of 2021 on reaching the final.
YES SAMIR!! 🙌 https://t.co/IFGAYZNHm5
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 4, 2021
YEEES!!! Love it boys! Well done and very much deserved. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙 https://t.co/j0cdJCidqN
— Pablo Zabaleta (@pablo_zabaleta) May 4, 2021
Sergio Aguero, who will leave City at the end of the season, only made it onto the pitch for the final few minutes of the second leg. However, an quote from City’s all-time top goal scorer from 2014 suddenly became very prescient in the aftermath of the match, especially as the striker’s glorious 10-year stint at the club draws to a close.
Sergio Aguero said this in 2014.
His last game with Man City will be the UCL final in Istanbul 🔮 pic.twitter.com/DVw2ioYpzu
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 4, 2021
PSG earned a fair amount of scorn for their performance, with fans not taking kindly to Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s attempt to spoil the game once they realised they were sunk.
Tempers boiled over in the second half as Angel Di Maria was sent off for a petulant stamp on Fernandinho — the second PSG player to see red over the course of the tie, following Idrissa Gueye’s similarly needless dismissal at the Parc des Princes. Marco Verratti, Presnel Kimpembe and Danilo Pereira all picked up bookings in the final stages of the tie as PSG’s players took their frustration out on their opponents.
This is a joke now, like the end of a Fifa drubbing when you try to get the game abandoned through red cards
— Sam Lee (@SamLee) May 4, 2021
Mauro Icardi bore the brunt of the criticism he struggled to make any discernible impact. The Argentine forward had just 13 touches of the ball in the first half, fewer than any other player including the two goalkeepers.
Indeed, French outlet L’Equipe gave Icardi a miserable rating of just 2/10 for his largely absent performance at the Etihad.
L’Equipe player ratings, just the 5 marks between Icardi vs Foden and Dias doesn’t feel quite right.
Icardi has done well to get 2/10 there. pic.twitter.com/SgYPcD10sC
— James McManus (@JamesMcManus1) May 5, 2021
Oh well, there’s always next year.