Top Winners, Losers After Wednesday's Champions League Semifinal Leg 1 Results

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, 2nd left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his sides first goal during the Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France , Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Thibault Camus/Associated Press

It was a tale of two halves in the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday. 

PSG bossed the first half, getting on the board from a Marquinhos header. But Manchester City came roaring back behind tallies from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez. And now City will take a 2-1 lead—and more crucially, two away goals—back to Manchester.  

Below, we'll break down the winners and losers from the contest. 


Winner: Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne clearly wasn't trying to score himself when City got their second-half equalizer. But his cross into the box was put in such a perfect spot—and such a tough angle for goalkeeper Keylor Navas—that it found the back of the net anyway. 

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

KEVIN DE BRUYNE 🤯 https://t.co/mj1YLnKnNB

There's the old saying that it's better to be lucky than good. Sometimes you're so damn good, though, that luck has no choice but to do your bidding. 

Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli

LOL de Bruyne’s so good he scores by accident.

De Bruyne is one such player. There are other stars around the world that have a larger profile, or who score flashier goals. Very few are actually better, however. 


Winner: Riyad Mahrez

Mahrez's goal, on the other hand, was very much intended to wind up in the back of the net. And it did just that:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

RIYAD MAHREZ. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 😳 https://t.co/AB1Obwdr7p

Truth be told, this wasn't a particularly great effort from Mahrez. It probably should have been blocked by the wall, and it wasn't tucked neatly into a corner beyond Navas' ability to stop. 

He won't care. You put the ball on goal, good things can happen. Game-winning, second away-goal good things. 


Loser: Keylor Navas

Navas had a bit of a howler. 

On the first goal, he seemed stuck between two minds. Anticipate the flight of the cross and risk a redirection from one of City's players peeling toward the cross. Stay at the center of the goal to protect against a redirection and, well, we all saw what happened.  

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

To be clear, not hating on Navas. He had a day to forget today, but PSG absolutely wouldn't be in the semifinals if not for his heroics in the early rounds. Today though, whoof.

Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner

That's poor from Navas.

On the second goal, again, his wall could have done better. That's why the wall is there in the first place. But a better reaction and Navas handles a stoppable shot. 

It's hard to put the entirety of the loss on Navas. But he more than played his part. 


Loser: Idrissa Gueye

Any chance PSG had of equalizing in the final 15 minutes was snuffed out by Idrissa Gueye's absolutely shambolic tackle of Ilkay Gundogan: 

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

PSG go down to 10-men 🟥 https://t.co/aNtgPCGqKk

Ian Darke @IanDarke

Red card and no argument. Terrible challenge by Gueye.

Henry Winter @henrywinter

Horrific challenge by Idrissa Gueye on Ilkay Gundogan, whose foot was planted and took full force of the lunge. Potential leg-breaker. Rightly sent off. #PSG losing their discipline and losing the first leg. #mcfc #PSGMCI

Phil McNulty @philmcnulty

Awful challenge by Idrissa Gueye. Deserved a red card.

Dreadful, dreadful stuff. He'll miss the second match, and he made it next to impossible for his team to get a second goal on Wednesday.


Loser: Mauricio Pochettino 

PSG absolutely bossed the first half. They were resplendent. It looked like PSG were headed for a big night. 

But Pep Guardiola made all of the right adjustments at half time. Mauricio Pochettino, on the other hand, did not. City ramped up their pressure and denied Kylian Mbappe and Neymar from getting on the ball. PSG conceded much more possession to City seemed happier sitting further back in its half. And that was the difference: 

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

Mauricio Pochettino with some cataclysmic adjustments at half time. Someone has to ask him about this. That Midfield pinned back like that? Awful. #ChampionsLeague

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Hard to know if PSG / Poch decided to take a step back, or Pep / City forced it by stepping forward, but was totally different game from half-time.

Sam Tighe - Ranks FC Podcast @stighefootball

Hell of a way to stop Mbappé and Neymar from hurting you: literally never let them touch the ball. Honestly, how many touches have PSG had in the 2nd half? Absolutely ridiculous stuff from City this.

Jimmy Conrad @JimmyConrad

@deejayfaremi Once Pep had a moment to adjust tactics at halftime, it was always going to be tough in the second half for those two in particular.

The result is that PSG have a huge task on their hands in Manchester, needing to win 2-1 just to force extra time. They are capable of doing so—they put three away goals on Bayern Munich—but it's an enormous ask against Guardiola's composed, tactically sound charges. 


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