Barca’s nightmare in Paris

  • Agencies, Paris
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 04, 2013 01:46 IST

It was the final kick of the match when Blaise Matuidi gave Paris Saint-Germain the encouragement to believe this tie may not be over. His shot took a slight yet decisive deflection off the nearest defender and Victor Valdés in Barcelona’s goal could not improvise quickly enough to stop it squirming over the line. The last act came so late there was not even time for the match to kick off again.

For Barcelona it meant a night of conflicting emotions bearing in mind how close they had been to going into the second leg in a position of even greater strength. They should still be regarded as the favourites but any sense of satisfaction has to be tempered by the knowledge that Xavi Hernández’s penalty to make it 2-1 had come in the 89th minute of normal time. From that position a side of this refinement will consider it wasteful not to have finished the job.

They will also have to consider the possibility that Lionel Messi will not take any part at Camp Nou next Wednesday because of the hamstring that cut his night short. Javier Masch-erano will definitely be missing after one booking too many, thou-gh damaged knee ligaments wou-ld have ruled him out anyway.

Messi, even on a night when he lasted only the first half, still made a significant contribution, scoring the opening goal after a sublime pass from Dani Alves. Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised in the 79th minute, albeit from an offside position, but Carlo Ancelo-tti’s side almost contrived to thr-ow it away when their goalkeeper, Salvatore Sirigu, brought down Alexis Sánchez to give Xavi the chance to restore the lead from the penalty spot. It was a breathless finish and PSG deserve acclaim for their perseverance even if Matuidi’s goal did carry a considerable slice of good fortune.


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