LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini was delighted by the manner in which Manchester City knocked out Paris Saint-Germain to reach the Champions League semi-finals and the manager was emphatic in his belief they can win the competition.
Kevin De Bruyne's 76th-minute goal beat the French champions 1-0 in the quarter-final second leg and 3-2 on aggregate to enter the draw for the semi-finals tomorrow.
In reaching the last four for the first time, City continue to make club history, as they also did when qualifying for the last eight.
Asked if his side could reach the final in Milan and win the trophy, Pellegrini said: "Of course, because I think it is one of the targets of this club every year. This season, next season. We receive a lot of criticism for different reasons but every year we are improving.
"It is a very great achievement for the club, not only to be in the semi-final of the Champions League, to be in the best four teams of Europe, but also the style of play we never change. Maybe a lot of people thought we would try for the draw. From the beginning we think as a big team so I am very happy to continue with our style."
In the previous two years, City were eliminated by Barcelona in the last 16. Pellegrini hit back at those who criticised the club for doing so.
"I never understand the criticism we get," the Chilean said. "We beat Bayern Munich in my first season and lost against Barcelona in the round of 16. In the second season we didn't play well but beat Bayern Munich again and Roma, then we lost to Barca again. This season we won the group and now we beat PSG. I really don't understand the criticism, or they don't understand Barcelona have better players."
This was only the fourth game for De Bruyne following the serious knee injury he suffered at the end of January.
The Belgian midfielder said: "It is huge for this club. Everyone talked about the Champions League and to be in the semi-final is a great achievement. But we are not done yet - it is two games to the final, so we will be doing everything we can to get through. It was one of the biggest nights of my career. I have played for titles and at the World Cup but this is definitely up there."
Laurent Blanc, the magnanimous PSG manager, credited the home side for getting through the tie.
"I think City were a lot more clinical and efficient and that is why they earned the qualification," the Frenchman said. "They were a good team, not particularly spectacular, but very clinical and they got the job done.