Five talking points

Hart proves his quality despite fitness fears

Less than three weeks after he was stretchered off following a rushed clearance resulting from a poor back-pass by Martin Demichelis, Joe Hart soothed fears that he had returned too soon from his calf injury.

England's No. 1 repelled Zlatan Ibrahimovic's early penalty for Paris Saint-Germain. Without that save, Manchester City might have crumbled.

Defensive frailties remain a huge concern

Fernando could have no excuse for making a mistake so lackadaisical at this level. While Hart's pass put him in an awkward position, with Ibrahimovic closing him down, he simply needed to knock the ball back to his goalkeeper. Instead he tried to play it across his own area and he was punished when the ball deflected in off Ibrahimovic's outstretched leg.

The unfortunate truth for City is that they undo too much of their good attacking work with dismal slips in defence, especially when Vincent Kompany is out. They were exposed with alarming regularity by PSG, who were presented with a two-on-one break inside the opening 10 minutes.

PSG slips offer encouragement

City were in trouble after their failure to deal with a corner allowed Adrien Rabiot to give PSG a 2-1 lead in the second half. Yet the French side were vulnerable in defence as well and Fernandinho's late equaliser leaves City in a position of command before the second leg in Manchester on Tuesday.

Those frailties were evident when David Luiz was booked for tugging back Sergio Aguero after just 12 seconds - the quickest yellow card in the Champions League this season and the fastest since 2003-04.

The Brazilian was also partially at fault for Kevin de Bruyne's goal just before half-time, making a strange attempt to cut out Fernandinho's pass.

Fernandinho equaliser was a gift from PSG's right-back, Serge Aurier, who presented him with a golden chance by fluffing a routine clearance with 17 minutes left.

Matuidi's suspension is good news for City

PSG will miss Blaise Matuidi's energy and quality in the second leg. Will that give City an advantage? The Frenchman is one of Laurent Blanc's most consistent players and it was unusual to see him misplace passes and commit the foul on Nicolas Otamendi that earned him a yellow card.

De Bruyne shows City what they were missing

City used to count on Yaya Toure for big goals in big games. Yet his absence offered them a tantalising glimpse of the future under Pep Guardiola, who sold Toure when he was at Barcelona.

With the Ivorian unavailable, de Bruyne was used in the No. 10 role behind Aguero and he was prominently involved in most of City's best moments in attack, passing intelligently, dropping into space between the lines and opening the scoring with a wicked shot shortly before the interval.

The 24-year-old's goal brought home just how much City missed him while he was recovering from the injury suffered in January. Despite missing numerous games, no City player has been involved in more goals this season in all competitions than de Bruyne (26).


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Five talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe