Champions League: Man City overpower PSG to progress as group winners, Liverpool beat Porto
Manchester City came back from behind to beat Paris St-Germain and secure qualification for the Champions League last 16 – doing so as Group A winners.
City’s outstanding display reaped the reward it deserved, as they showed character as well as class after Kylian Mbappe swept PSG into a 50th-minute lead.
PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino, heavily linked with Manchester United following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking, was left disappointed as City hit back in style to turn the game around.
Raheem Sterling’s recent good run continued as he turned home Kyle Walker’s far post touch to equalise after 63 minutes. Then substitute Gabriel Jesus was the beneficiary of an exquisite lay-off from Bernardo Silva to beat PSG keeper Kaylor Navas from close range 13 minutes later.
PSG’s superstar trio of Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar were a sporadic threat but City carried the greater danger and this was a well-merited victory, putting them into the last 16 before they travel to face RB Leipzig for their final Group A game, which will be played behind closed doors.
For all PSG’s attacking riches, it was Manchester City who carried the more concerted threat – with the only concern initially that they could not cash in on their domination.
Pep Guardiola’s side were on the front foot from the first whistle and it required Presnel Kimpembe’s header to deny Rodri, before Achraf Hakimi diverted a shot from Riyad Mahrez over the top.
City almost paid the price when John Stones lost possession and Mbappe shot over but City were calm, measured and always looked a more organised unit than their illustrious opponents.
They were put to the test when Mbappe put PSG ahead against the run of play but City then struck the perfect balance between chasing the game and keeping the door locked at the back.
Sterling’s resurgence continued with another goal and an energetic display while Jesus answered the regular questions about City not signing a striker with a predatory finish.
City then closed out the game with few alarms to ensure they will go into the draw for the knockout stage as group winners, always an advantage, and with the opportunity to rest players in that final group game behind closed doors in Leipzig with their Champions League job done.
It was the sort of performance City have been producing in the Champions League in recent seasons, as PSG discovered in last season’s semi-final – now the task is to somehow find a way to make those successful steps through the next phase and fill that gap in their trophy cabinet.
Liverpool hammered Porto
Liverpool on his part maintained their 100% record in the Champions League this season by seeing off Porto at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men, who had already secured top spot in Group B and a place in the knockout stages after winning their first four games, picked up another three points against the Portuguese side.
The Reds were not at their best in the first half and although hardly at full tilt in the second either, they scored two lovely goals to clinch another victory.
Spain midfielder Thiago drilled in a stunning, long-range finish, cutting across the ball to produce a rasping 25-yard strike that nestled in the bottom corner.
Egypt forward Mohamed Salah then cut in from the right and jinked his way past a visiting defender before smashing home at the near post.
Porto were punished for missing a glorious chance after 11 minutes when Otavio inexplicably side-footed wide from eight yards out with an empty goal to aim at.
Liverpool hammered Porto 5-1 in the reverse fixture in Portugal and could have handed out another similarly emphatic victory but Sadio Mane’s cool finish was ruled out by VAR for offside, as was Takumi Minamino’s volley from close range.
Klopp said: “Whoever sees Thiago in training knows he has the technique to do it but even with this technique it doesn’t happen constantly that he can fire such a thunderball.
“We could have done better and been more calm in the first half but we were a bit hectic. That is not unusual when you put a team out that has not played together a lot.
“Some people think we might play an easy game but we were not here for that, Anfield is sold out so we want to go (for it).”
The good news for Porto was that AC Milan secured a late victory at Atletico Madrid, meaning the Portuguese side stay second in the group.
Victory for Sergio Conceicao’s side in the final group game against the La Liga champions will guarantee passage into the knockout stages.