Football

Pep talk fuelled turnaround against PSG: De Bruyne

But Wenger accuses PSG of 'mentally collapsing' after Citizens' equaliser

Manchester City vice-captain Kevin de Bruyne said manager Pep Guardiola told the team at half-time to hold on to the ball more, as the Citizens overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The English side had been outclassed in the first half of their Champions League semi-final, first-leg encounter at the Parc des Princes and were lucky to be trailing to just a Marquinhos header going into the break.

Despite the speed and skill of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe up front, coupled with Angel di Maria looking imperious in the first half, City pushed up their defensive line and pressed higher and more aggressively in the second half.

When asked what Guardiola said at half-time, de Bruyne told BT Sport: "Just play a little bit more with the ball. The first half, we were a bit too rushed, trying to go forward too quickly and that's not the way we are set up as a team.

"In the second half, we tried to find space more patiently. They're a tough team to play against. The progression we made as a team was good."

Explaining his team's second-half drop-off, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "They were a little bit more aggressive, and it was difficult for us to recover the ball...

"We didn't show the energy you need when you recover the ball to keep possession and try to force them (to) go deep."

PSG struggled to replicate their first-half form, with City looking the much better side after the break.

But they required some luck to turn things around with a deep de Bruyne cross evading everyone, including PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the 64th minute, for the equaliser.

Seven minutes later, the Belgian surprisingly passed up a free-kick, with Riyad Mahrez's effort creeping through a hole in the wall and into the net.

PSG's Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red in the 77th minute for a reckless tackle on Ilkay Guendogan.

Legendary ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused PSG of "mentally collapsing" in the second half.

He said on beIN Sport: "When it was 1-1, PSG mentally collapsed... They become emotional and aggressive in a stupid way."

Guardiola said he understood his side's conservatism in the first half, explaining: "They're a team who are able to do whatever they want because they have the quality, so that's why you play a bit cautious...

"In the first 45 minutes, we played not to lose the ball but with no intention to break the lines. You cannot win the qualification in the first leg, but you can lose it."

City could seal their second trophy this season before next week's second leg at the Etihad.

Guardiola's men, who won the League Cup last Sunday, will clinch their third English Premier League title in four seasons if they beat Crystal Palace tomorrow and Manchester United lose to Liverpool on Sunday.

Football