Days after inspiring Manchester City to a Premier League win at Bournemouth on his comeback from injury, Kevin De Bruyne shone again as his team claimed a 2-2 draw at Paris St Germain in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday.
The Belgian midfielder sustained a knee injury in late January and only returned to the City side on Saturday, but he has made an immediate impact, scoring against Bournemouth before showing his class at the Parc des Princes.
He netted the opener against PSG after 38 minutes, firing past Kevin Trapp after being set up by Fernandinho to finish off a sharp counter attack.
De Bruyne, who joined City from Wolfsburg in the close season, was a constant thorn in the side of the PSG midfield, with Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta and Adrien Rabiot all looking less comfortable than they had in recent Ligue 1 encounters.
“Sometimes one player can change a team. He was important before his injury and thankfully he returned the same way,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told a news conference.
Without De Bruyne, City suffered five defeats in 12 games in all competitions during the two months he was injured.
City, who were playing in their first Champions League quarter-final, looked lively at the Parc des Princes even though they paid dearly for a defensive blunder that allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to level for 1-1.
“In the first half we made an important mistake that we cannot afford,” said Pellegrini.
Joe Hart, who on his return from injury saved Ibrahimovic’s first-half penalty, played a goal kick to a Fernando, who dwelled on the ball before his pass hit the Swedish striker’s outstretched foot and rolled into the empty net.
Fernandinho grabbed the equaliser after Rabiot had put PSG ahead in the second half leaving City in a strong position for the return leg next Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium.
“I don’t think we are the favourites,” said Pellegrini, who added that defender Vincent Kompany could return from injury for the second leg.
“We will see during the week. We must test him with more intensity.”
PSG coach Blanc rued PSG’s “technical mistakes” and said he would not blame Ibrahimovic for the missed penalty and another wasted chance in the first half.
“He’s been through a lot tonight, missing that penalty then a great chance. But he never stopped believing and he gave us the equaliser,” he said.