Jesus strike sinks PSG as City seal Champions League last-16 ticket
Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus fired City to a deserved Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain and sealed our ticket into the last 16.
In what was a pulsating Etihad encounter, Kylian Mbappe had fired the visitors into a 49th minute lead against the run of play.
But roared on by a passionate crowd, Sterling struck to level matters on 63 minutes before substitute Jesus rounded off a memorable night by converting from close range 14 minutes from time to seal the deal.
It was an eagerly anticipated match-up between two of Europe’s most gifted and exciting sides – and the action didn’t disappoint.
The game began at a breakneck speed with Oleks Zinchenko deployed in midfield for Pep Guardiola’s side and it was City who almost made the early breakthrough.
A towering sixth-minute Riyad Mahrez free-kick found Rodrigo leaping tallest at the back post and the Spaniard’s angled header was goalbound only for PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe to head off the line.
Even then the danger wasn’t averted and Mahrez’s powerful follow-up shot rifled into the side netting.
Not surprisingly at the other end, the French side’s superstar attacking trident of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi sought to probe and harry the hosts at every opportunity but it was City on the front foot.
Mahrez was a key attacking outlet down the right channel and a quite brilliant, sweeping City move on 18 minutes instigated by the Algerian almost broke the deadlock.
Gathering the ball from Bernardo Silva, Mahrez then slalomed in from the left edge of the box before dispatching a goalbound shot which was headed over by Achraf Hakimi.
A low 27th-minute effort from Nuno Mendes forced Ederson into his first meaningful save and was a reminder of the threat posed by Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
But City carved open another excellent opportunity almost immediately, Marquinhos’ lunge blocking a close-range Zinchenko shot after fine work by Sterling down the left flank.
City were knocking on the Paris door with almost relentless pressure and we came the closest yet to a deserved breakthrough on 33 minutes as skipper Ilkay Gundogan smacked the outside of the post after Mendes had diverted Cancelo’s cross invitingly into the German’s path 10 yards out.
PSG keeper Keylor Navas then earned his stripes by diving low to tip away danger man Mahrez’s low skidding effort as Guardiola’s men kept our iron grip on proceedings.
However, just before the break, there was a huge let-off for City.
After Neymar had wrestled possession midway in our half, the Brazilian’s slide rule pass put Mbappe clear in space behind Kyle Walker on the left edge of the City box but, fortunately, the striker’s curling effort was high and wide, to the Etihad’s collective relief.
There was a nagging fear however that City could regret not converting that pressure – and four minutes after the restart PSG clicked into gear with a devastating smash and grab raid.
A breakneck attack featuring Neymar, Messi, Mendes and Herrera culminated with a low Messi deflected drive that found Mbappe unmarked at the far post.
This time he made no mistake, cutting inside before firing beyond Ederson to put the visitors ahead.
It was a cruel body blow but with the Etiahd roaring them on, City kept searching for that elusive goal and only a fine 62nd minute Navas block prevented Mahrez claiming the goal his display merited.
Finally, however City were rewarded in 63 minutes through Raheem Sterling.
Kyle Walker was the architect, the right back latching onto Rodrigo’s superb chip and dragging the ball back into the centre of the box.
Substitute Gabriel Jesus claimed the faintest of touches and Sterling stretched to force the ball home in off the post.
With our tails up, we poured forward in search of a second and Navas was at full stretch to tip away a 70th minute Jesus snapshot.
However, there was another big let off at the other end when Neymar skipped through the City backline after a neat one-two but then dragged his shot wide.
And we made the PSG pay for that error on 77 miniutes as we took a merited lead.
The brilliant Mahrez clipped a ball to the far post for Bernardo who showed poise and vision to play a first time pass back for Jesus to smash home from six-yards.
PSG sought to summon up a response but City held firm to seal what was a thoroughly deserved victory and a night to remember!
WHAT IT MEANS
City can look forward to next month’s group finale away to RB Leipzig safe in the knowledge our ticket to the last 16 and top spot is already secure.
With a punishing December schedule, it means the pressure and intensity will be somewhat relaxed for our trip to Germany.
The perfect scenario for Guardiola and his squad.
"Of course, PSG, what a team, what players, what could I say. Performance is quite similar to Paris a month ago. Today we created more chances in the first half.
"We played really well and always we had the sense that they could run, wow. They have a lot of quality, we tried to defend away from our goal because they can do anything.
"Except for the five minutes after our goal when they counter attacked but could not finish because Ruben defended really well… Congrats to everyone in the club.
"We are into the last 16 and will try our best in February to go to quarters."
City are back in Premier League action on Sunday when we play host to West Ham United.
Kick-off at the Etihad is slated for 2 pm and, as usual, we will have comprehensive coverage on mancity.com and our official app.