Manchester City's Champions League omen as they prepare for PSG return

No pressure, Pep! Just eight teams in 66 years of European Cup history have failed to progress from Manchester City’s strong position after they won away at PSG… but their rivals tonight know exactly how it feels to blow a first-leg lead!

  • Manchester City won 2-1 away to Paris Saint-Germain in first leg last week
  • They begin tonight’s return game as strong favourites to make it through
  • In the history of the competition, 319 teams have won a first leg away from home
  • And only eight have subsequently failed to make it through to the next round
  • None of those careless eight to blow such an advantage were English clubs 
  • But PSG know how it feels to throw away such a position after Man United loss 

Manchester City start Tuesday night’s return leg with Paris Saint-Germain as strong favourites to reach their first ever Champions League final – and history is on their side as well.

Pep Guardiola’s team lead 2-1 in the tie following last Wednesday’s dramatic turnaround win in the Parc des Princes and have the luxury of two away goals ahead of the encounter at the Etihad.

Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored the crucial goals in Paris as City showed plenty of character to respond to an early opener from Marquinhos for PSG.

Manchester City brilliantly came from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg

Pep Guardiola’s side will go into tonight’s second leg as strong favourites to make the final

And as they look to complete the job in Manchester, there are few better omens than the perfect record of English sides who won an away first leg in Europe’s top competition.

Indeed, it’s a rare event indeed for a team that loses a home first leg to storm back and progress from the tie in the Champions League and its forerunner, the European Cup.

The Times have calculated that of the 319 teams to have won their first leg away from home in 66 years of competition, only eight have failed to make it through.

However, City will be wary given that three of those occasions happened pretty recently – during the 2018-19 season.

PSG won’t want reminding that they lost their last-16 tie against Manchester United in February 2019 in such circumstances.

Marcus Rashford scored the decisive penalty as PSG collapsed against Man United in 2019

United’s away goals win promoted the club’s hierarchy to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the job

They won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg but conspired to lose 3-1 at home to exit on away goals, with Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time penalty making all the difference.

It was, of course, the stunning comeback that persuaded United’s hierarchy to give caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the job on a full-time basis.

In that same Champions League round, Ajax enacted a similar fightback against reigning champions Real Madrid.

The Dutch side lost the first leg 2-1 at home but sensationally won 4-1 in the Bernabeu to completely flip the tie on its head.

And there was another stunning result in the Champions League semi-final that year – but this time Ajax were on the receiving end.

They beat Tottenham 1-0 away from home in the first leg but then lost 3-2 on their own patch to exit on away goals. Lucas Moura scored a hat-trick, including a 96th-minute winner, as Spurs came back from 3-0 down on aggregate.

Lucas Moura scored a 96th-minute goal to complete a stunning Tottenham fightback at Ajax

Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side reached the Champions League final in stunning fashion

Ajax had completed their own stunning turnaround against Real Madrid earlier that season

Such an occurrence has happened on two other occasions during the post-1992 Champions League era.

In February 2011, in the last-16, the defending champions Inter Milan lost the first leg 1-0 to Bayern Munich before winning 3-2 away from home to progress on away goals.

And back in 1996, eventual winners Ajax almost saw their dreams die when Greek side Panathinaikos won 1-0 in Amsterdam. But Louis van Gaal’s team won the return leg 3-0 in Athens to reach the final.

The other three occasions this has happened came in the European Cup era, when the whole competition was a straight knockout.

Inter Milan won 3-2 away to Bayern Munich in 2011 having lost their home first leg 1-0 

Brian Clough poses with the European Cup after Nottingham Forest retained it in 1980

In 1980, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest recovered from a 1-0 loss at home to Dynamo Berlin in the quarter-finals to win 3-1 in East Germany and would go on to retain their crown.

In the 1969 quarter-finals, Ajax beat Benfica 3-0 in a tie-breaker leg played on neutral territory in Paris after Benfica won the first leg 3-1 in Amsterdam and Ajax won the return 3-1 in Lisbon.

And way back in 1955, in the first ever European Cup, Saarbrucken beat AC Milan 4-3 away from home but then collapsed to a 4-1 defeat on home territory in the return.

So only eight teams in almost 70 years of Europe’s leading competition have thrown away the position City find themselves in tonight. No pressure…

Don’t blow it now! 

Since 1955, the away side has won the first leg of a knockout tie in the European Cup/Champions League on 319 occasions. 

Just eight times has that team subsequently failed to progress from the tie.

SAARBRUCKEN vs AC Milan – European Cup first round, November 1955

First leg: AC Milan 3 Saarbrucken 4

Second leg: Saarbrucken 1 AC Milan 4

Aggregate: 7-5 to AC Milan 

BENFICA  vs Ajax – European Cup quarter-final, February 1969

First leg: Ajax 1 Benfica 3

Second leg: Benfica 1 Ajax 3

Tie-breaker in Paris: Ajax 3 Benfica 0

DYNAMO BERLIN vs Nottingham Forest – European Cup quarter-final, March 1980

First leg: Nottingham Forest 0 Dynamo Berlin 1

Second leg: Dynamo Berlin 1 Nottingham Forest 3

Aggregate: 3-2 to Nottingham Forest 

PANATHINAIKOS vs Ajax – Champions League semi-final, April 1996

First leg: Ajax 0 Panathinaikos 1

Second leg: Panathinaikos 0 Ajax 3

Aggregate: 3-1 to Ajax 

BAYERN MUNICH vs Inter Milan – Champions League last-16, February 2011

First leg: Inter Milan 0 Bayern Munich 1

Second leg: Bayern Munich 2 Inter Milan 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Inter won on away goals 

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs Manchester United – Champions League last-16, February 2019

First leg: Manchester United 0 Paris Saint-Germain 2

Second leg: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Man United won on away goals 

REAL MADRID vs Ajax – Champions League last-16, February 2019

First leg: Ajax 1 Real Madrid 2

Second leg: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4

Aggregate: 5-3 to Ajax

AJAX vs Tottenham Hotspur – Champions League semi-final, April 2019

First leg: Tottenham 0 Ajax 1

Second leg: Ajax 2 Tottenham 3

Aggregate: 3-3; Tottenham won on away goals 




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