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De Bruyne proves Manchester City's 'main man'

"Our main man from Belgium settled it," said Joe Hart of Manchester City match-winner Kevin De Bruyne, an unassuming player who lets his football do the talking. And how!

De Bruyne: 'Great feeling' to score
De Bruyne: 'Great feeling' to score

There were two goalscoring UEFA Champions League quarter-final heroes on Tuesday night, and both match-winners deserve the plaudits that come their way.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a once-in-a-generation talent, but what Kevin De Bruyne does for Manchester City is often overlooked. De Bruyne is unlikely to be caught in a dressing-room snap on social media showing off his six-pack in his underwear, but like Ronaldo he has the ability to decide a game with a moment of magic. With 76 minutes gone against Paris Saint-Germain, the Belgian playmaker did just that; he gathered the ball outside the area with seemingly no shot on and curled in a goal that ensured City won 1-0, and 3-2 on aggregate, to reach a first UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Watch De Bruyne's winner
Watch De Bruyne's winner

"It's a great feeling," De Bruyne said. "I needed to control the ball because I saw some players diving in. So I just took my shot and fortunately for us it went in."

Fortunately indeed, though he does it too often for City for it to be mere luck. Bacary Sagna told UEFA.com: "He showed class tonight, he has showed class since he joined the club," while Joe Hart added: "Quality settles competitions. They had quality, we had quality, luckily our main man from Belgium settled it tonight."

Watch: Hart hails De Bruyne
Watch: Hart hails De Bruyne

De Bruyne is not a player whose charismatic presence on a pitch can give his team a psychological edge, like say Ronaldo or the man Hart denied several times in Manchester, Zlatan Ibrahimović. But the apparently unassuming De Bruyne possesses a flair which is subtle and efficient in a quite deadly way, popping up at just the right moment for a shot from nothing, or maybe no more than a little flick, his movement often with the poise of an accomplished classical dancer.

City's Premier League chances effectively evaporated during De Bruyne's two-month injury absence in February and March, Manuel Pellegrini's side clearly missing the man who so often finds a route out of difficulties. "Kevin has an important thing for a player – near the box he is a very dangerous player because he doesn't need too much space to have good shots," said the City manager, who paid a club-record €74m to buy De Bruyne from Wolfsburg last summer.

De Bruyne's Belgium brilliance
De Bruyne's Belgium brilliance

So now the 24-year-old, who rebuilt his club career in the Bundesliga after an unhappy spell at Chelsea, has a UEFA Champions League semi-final to look forward to, even if Ronaldo ensured that a dream match-up with former club Wolfsburg will not be on the cards for De Bruyne in Friday's draw.

"We're in the semi-final now so anything can happen," he said. "We know it's going to be a tough one but PSG wasn't an easy one either, so we're looking forward to it and we'll be ready to play."