On 12 April Manchester city reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League after taking the scalp of French champions Paris Saint Germain.
City knew that a clean sheet would definitely see them through, and apart from a few early scares their goal rarely came under serious threat, as Eliaquim Mangala and Nicholas Otamendi stood firm against the towering figures of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edinson Cavani.
Pellegrini’s team had Joe Hart to thank for three good saves when the score was at 0-0, most notably the shot-stopper repelled a stinging Ibrahimović free kick. City may not have thought that is was going to be their night, after Sergio Agüero missed the target from the spot to leave the nerves jangling.
Kevin de Bruyne’s 76th minute goal solidified City’s position in the tie, the Belgian neatly created a pocket of space on the edge of the area before beautifully stroking the ball past the despairing Kevin Trapp.
BBC pundit Chris Sutton heavily scrutinised Mangala’s credentials on last week’s Match of the Day, saying, “You can’t give someone a brain and that’s Mangala’s problem”. But after the Frenchman’s astute display alongside his former FC Porto teammate Otamendi, the centre back has rather tastefully hit back at his critic.
Posting on Twitter, Mangala said, “We did it! Amazing feeling! Already focused on the next game but thank you @chrissutton09 for the motivation tonight #CMONCITY #Cleansheet”.
Roared on in a mesmerising atmosphere and by a capacity crowd of 53,039, City held their nerve and won the match with their only shot on target. They could now potentially face giants Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the next round.
TNT Sport Billy Rooney