Paris Saint-Germain reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League after seeing out an entertaining 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona, winning 5-2 on aggregate.
It was a positive start from Ronald Koeman’s men. Ousmane Dembele had two good chances to open the scoring but converted neither, while Keylor Navas turned Sergino Dest’s effort onto the crossbar.
On the half hour mark, PSG got the chance to take the lead on the night when VAR awarded a penalty for Clement Lenglet’s trip on Mauro Icardi. Kylian Mbappe stepped up and bagged his fourth of the tie.
Dembele wasted another chance to get on the scoresheet after being played through by Antoine Griezmann, placing his strike straight at Navas.
But it wasn’t long before Lionel Messi had his say. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner picked up the ball from 30 yards out and unleashed a breathtaking strike into the top corner.
Just before half time, Messi had the opportunity to put Barcelona 2-1 up when Griezmann was fouled by Layvin Kurzawa in the box. However, the Argentine’s penalty was poor, and Navas blocked it with his legs.
La Blaugrana continued to push for a second goal after the break, but were unable to find a way through. Messi was thwarted by an excellent Marquinhos tackle, and Sergio Busquets saw his header kept out at the near post by Navas.
PSG were able to keep Barcelona at bay for the second half, and almost put the cherry on top in the 90th minute, but Mbappe blazed over when through on goal.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are one of four teams confirmed to be in the quarter-final draw. They will be joined by Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, and four other sides.
Man of the Match – Keylor Navas
Navas has been a top class goalkeeper for a while now, but often goes under the radar. Tonight he proved once again that he’s among the best in the world in between the sticks.
The Costa Rican produced when it really mattered, keeping out Messi’s penalty on the stroke of half time. If that had gone in, then it could have been a completely different story.
The 34-year-old also produced a number of impressive stops, most notably from Dembele, Dest, and Busquets to keep PSG comfortably in front.
A magnificent performance all round from Navas.
Things are looking up for Barcelona
Yes, they went out. Yes, they lost the tie by three goals.
But Barcelona restored a little bit of pride on Wednesday night with a fighting performance at the Parc des Princes.
They dominated large parts of the game and created several chances, all while looking less shaky at the back. If their finishing had been on point, then they may have completed the comeback.
Ronald Koeman has come under a lot of fire during his time in charge at the Camp Nou. However, the last few weeks have been far more encouraging.
They reached the Copa del Rey final when things looked bleak, have got themselves back into contention for the title after a slow start, and looked bright against one of the world’s top clubs.
If they end the domestic season strong and manage to get a trophy in the cabinet, then it should be enough for the Dutchman to keep his job.
Furthermore, there are a number of young players at the La Liga side who are showing great potential. Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Ansu Fati, Sergino Dest, Riqui Puig, Francisco Trincao, Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo, Ilaix Moriba – all players aged 23 and under who have made an impression in recent months.
Not to mention, the influx of youngsters at the club may encourage Messi to stay put this summer. The 33-year-old showed that he can still be part of a highly successful Barcelona team, and that could be the deciding factor in his future.
Things may have been all doom and gloom at the Camp Nou earlier in the season, but the glory days could be back sooner than expected.
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