De Bruyne stunner seals historic win for Man City

A week on from its 2-2 draw in the French capital, City saw Sergio Aguero squander a first-half penalty, but De Bruyne's late strike settled the Etihad Stadium nerves and completed a 3-2 aggregate success over PSG that took it to its first ever Champions League semifinal.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring a goal for Manchester City on Tuesday.   -  REUTERS

Manchester City reached the Champions League semifinals for the first time after Kevin De Bruyne's fine 76th-minute goal earned his team a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

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A week on from its 2-2 draw in the French capital, City saw Sergio Aguero squander a first-half penalty after he had been felled by PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, but De Bruyne's late strike settled the Etihad Stadium nerves and completed a 3-2 aggregate success.

Fifteen points off the pace in the Premier League and widely considered the tie's underdogs, City advances with hope intact that manager Manuel Pellegrini may yet bow out with a Champions League winner's medal around his neck before handing over to Pep Guardiola.

But it was a bitterly disappointing evening for PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who lost Thiago Motta to injury and has now seen his team eliminated in the quarterfinals four seasons in a row.

The champion French team’s ambitious Qatari owners must once again content themselves with the pursuit of another domestic quadruple, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose contract expires at the end of the season, may never grace the continental stage in their colours again.

The burst of sky-blue tickertape that greeted the teams as they entered the pitch illustrated the importance of the occasion to both clubs, while PSG's shape at kick-off confirmed pre-match reports that it would be set out in an untested 3-4-1-2 system.

With Angel di Maria operating in a free role, PSG had plenty of options in midfield and it made an assured start, City goalkeeper Joe Hart forced to make a finger-tip save from a zinging Ibrahimovic free-kick.

But as City began to probe, it exposed fissures in PSG's new-look defence and after Aguero had twice shot wide, a loose pass from auxiliary right-sided centre-back Serge Aurier allowed Fernandinho to set Aguero clear.

Blanc rejigs

Sliding out, Trapp felled the Argentina striker with his feet, but the presence of two covering defenders meant that he was only booked and from the penalty, Aguero placed the ball a foot wide of the right-hand post.

It was a let-off for PSG, but after another careless Aurier pass had allowed Jesus Navas to curl wide, it suffered a further blow when Motta went off holding the back of his left thigh.

With Blaise Matuidi suspended and Marco Verratti injured, it left PSG without its entire first-choice midfield and Blanc promptly rejigged, sending on Lucas Moura and reverting to his trusted 4-3-3.

Although City, gamely, continued to push in search of a goal that would have given it an outright lead, PSG began to knock on the door at the other end. Hart had to parry another stinging Ibrahimovic free-kick and then clubbed the ball over his crossbar after Thiago Silva's header from a Lucas corner spat up off the turf towards him.

The introduction of Javier Pastore for the hapless Aurier, on the hour, left PSG with its full attacking armada on show, but it was De Bruyne who stole the headlines, brilliantly shaping a right-foot shot into the bottom-right corner from outside the box to crush PSG's spirit.

City's fans had to endure a couple more nervous moments, with Hart rushing out superbly to save from Edinson Cavani and Ibrahimovic seeing a goal ruled out for offside, before the final whistle rubber-stamped their club's arrival in the European big-time.

Key Opta stats:
Sergio Aguero has missed two of his last three penalties in the Champions League for Man City after scoring each of the previous five for them in the competition.
- Kevin  De Bruyne has now had a hand in 27 goals in all competitions for Man City this season (15 goals, 12 assists) – a joint-high for the club alongside Aguero.
- PSG has been knocked out in the quarterfinals in each of its last four Champions League campaigns.
- City is only the fourth English side to reach the Champions League semifinals since 2010-11 (Man Utd 2010-11, Chelsea 2011-12, Chelsea 2013-14).

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