Barcelona completed one of the greatest comebacks in football history as Paris Saint-Germain choked on an incredible night at Camp Nou
Hats off to Sid Lowe, who has miraculously kept it together in the most difficult circumstances imaginable for a football match reporter to send across this on-the-whistle report. Astonishing work on an astonishing night at Camp Nou.
And the man of the match award goes to ... Neymar, unquestionably. He was sensational throughout and it was his amazing late free-kick that gave Barcelona a glimmer of hope after Edinson Cavani scored an away goal for PSG. On TV, Ivan Rakitic is struggling to make sense of it all, but compares his side’s win to the Super Bowl this year. Truth be told, I think this knocks the New England Patriots’ efforts into a cocked hat and was a lot more impressive. It will fascinating to hear what PSG make of tonight’s events and to see how or if they recover. Meanwhile in Germany, Borussia Dortmund also overcame a deficit in fine style: they’ve beaten Benfica 4-0 to go through 4-1 on aggregate.
So, that’s that then. Paris Saint-Germain are out, having surrendered a four-goal lead from the first leg. They ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, but all credit to Barcelona who made the most of their opponents’ mental fragility to suffocate them for an hour, while scoring three goals. The jig looked up after Edinson Cavani scored for PSG, but a wonderful free-kick from Neymar gave Barcelona a glimmer of hope again before they plundered two more tie-winning goals in added time.
Neymar scored from the spot after Luis Suarez took a tumble and then the young substitute Sergi Roberto lifted the ball over PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to win an incredible tie for Barcelona with a beautifully weighted volley. It was an astonishing game of football - here’s hoping we did it some sort of justice for you from our Guardian Towers bunker.
Incredible scenes at Camp Nou! An astonishing performance by Barcelona, who had PSG terrified and on the ropes only to concede a sloppy away goal that seemed to ruin any chance they had of turning the tie around. Never underestimate the spineless of French football clubs in European competition, though - despite needing to do little more than NOT CONCEDE THREE GOALS IN THE FINAL TWO MINUTES PLUS ADDED TIME, Paris Saint-Germain have embarrassed themselves by somehow snatching defeat from the jaws of seemingly certain victory. Barcelona’s players are obvisouly delighted, but PSG will never live this down.
It’s all over! What a result! What a game! What a comeback! What a choke! Barcelona have overturned a 4-0 deficit to send Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League with three goals in the final seven minutes. It’s never been done before - this must be a contender for the greatest comeback/bottle-job in the history of the game.
90+5 min: Camp Nou has erupted in an explosion of unbridled joy as Sergi Roberto, who endured the worst night of his young career in Paris, scores the goal that will put them through to the quarter-finals. Neymar delivered the free-kick into the penalty area and Roberto it was who got in behind the defence to volley past Trapp and send Luis Enrique galloping down the touchline in celebration. What a game! What a result!
Unbelievable! Barcelona score again. Sensational scenes at Camp Nou.
90+5 min: Barcelona win a free-kick wide on the left and Ter Stegen advances up the field from his goal. He’s fouled by Verratti. Another free-kick in a good position for Barcelona!
90+3 min: We’re into the third of five minutes of added time signalled by the fourth official. PSG substitution: Krychowiak on for Meunier. It was Marquinhos who “fouled” Suarez for that penalty, by the way. He got booked for his troubles.
90+2 min: A ball into the PSG penalty area, where Pique wins the knockdown but fails to get the ball into the path of Leo Messi.
Neymar scores! It’s all square on aggregate, but PSG have the edge on away goals. We’re into injury time and Barcelona’s players and supporters suddenly believe again.
This is crazy! Luis Suarez goes down in the penalty area and wins a penalty. It looked like a dive, but the match officials have bought it.
Neymar scores with a sensational free-kick! Wow, an incredible free-kick from the Brazilian, who bends one into the top left-hand corner from about 30 yards out. Barcelona need two more.
87 min: Aurier throws himself in front of a goal-bound Neymar volley that flattens him. Great block.
86 min: Angel Di Maria is put through on goal and under pressure from Mascherano, who may have fouled him, flop-wedges a looping shot over Mark-Andre ter Stegen that bounces wide.
84 min: Barcelona substitution: Rakitic off, Gomes on.
82 min: Busquets drives forward for Barcelona, who started the evening needing four goals, scored three of them and still need another three. The clock is against them and they look beaten men. Their fans are sitting in almost complete silence but haven’t abandoned their team. They can be proud of a good effort, but ultimately their inability to keep a clean sheet against quality opposition has been their undoing this evening. They had PSG quaking in their boots, but proceeded to undo all their good work with some exceedingly sloppy defending.
80 min: Barcelona go forward and Turan picks out Rakitic in the penalty area. PSG clear.
78 min: PSG go a rampaging towards the Barcelona penalty area with Angel Di Maria on the ball. He appeals for a penalty after his attempted cross hits the hand of Gerard Pique on the edge of the area, but none is forthcoming.
77 min: Barcelona substitution: Sergi Roberto on, Rafinha off.
76 min: PSG substitution: Julian Draxler off, Serge Aurier on.
75 min: Lionel Messi wriggles his way past Thiago Silva through the PSG penalty area and drags a low diagonal effort wide of the far upright.
73 min: Barcelona win a free-kick and Messi delivers the ball into the PSG penalty area. The visitors clear, as an almost eerie silence descends on the the stadium ... writes reporter from London bunker.
71 min: Barcelona continue huffing and puffing, but the wind seems to have gone from their sails. They had PSG on the ropes until a simple schoolboy lapse in concentration cost them dearly.
69 min: It’s worth noting that the goal Barcelona conceded was a very poorly defended one. A long ball was pumped into the penalty area, where Rakitic was caught napping and allowed Layvin Kurzawa to win the knockdown almost completely unopposed. Cavani’s finishing was lethal.
67 min: Luis Suarez is booked for diving after leaving his leg dangling in the evening breeze in the hope that Marco Verratti might trip him up. He can have no complaints about that booking.
66 min: Turan is put through on goal and beats Trapp with a low diagonal effort that is hacked clear before it can cross the line.
65 min: Barcelona throw caution to the wind and are piling men forward, leaving vast expanses for PSG to exploit at the back. Luis Enrique brings on Arda Turan for Iniesta.
64 min: Cavani blows an opportunity to put the tie completely beyond Barcelona as he’s foiled by Ter Stegen after being put through on goal in a one-on-one. The goalkeeper stuck out a left boot to prevent the ball going into the corner.
Cavani scores! A ball over the top and Rakitic is beaten in the air by Kurzawa, who wins the knockdown. Cavani rifles a half-volley into the roof of the net to give PSG a precious away goal. Barcelona need three more goals.
61 min: Ivan Rakitic takes one for the team and gets booked for a tug on Draxler.
59 min: PSG win a corner, shortly after Leo Messi looked to have a legitimate penalty shout turned down at the other end of the pitch. The ball’s sent into the penalty area, where an Edinson Cavani shot pinballs wide off Blaise Matuidi. That could have gone anywhere! This is bonkers!
56 min: Barcelona continue their assault on the PSG penalty area, as PSG’s players give a passable impersonation of players who swapped their boots to the wrong feet at half-time. They keep losing possession in midfield, their attempts to clear their lines when under pressure have been incredibly sloppy and their nerves look shot. Can they hang on? I wouldn’t bet on it at the moment. But if they can score an away goal, that would certainly ease their nerves ...
56 min: PSG substitution: Angel Di Maria on, Luca Moura off.
55 min: Neymar goes down in the PSG penalty area as he contests a through ball with Meunier. It’s an obvious dive, but he escapes a booking for simulation.
54 min: Rafinha cuts in from the right and tries his luck with a shot that Trapp saves in a fairly straightforward fashion.
53 min: Edinson Cavani rifles a close range effort off the foot of the upright from a few yards out after getting on the end of a near post Meunier cross from the right.
51 min: PSG’s right-back Thomas Meunier gave away the penalty there, bringing down Neymar as he fell to the ground when the Brazilian tried to jink past him. At first the referee seemed reluctant to give the penalty, but eventually did so after consulting with his goal-line official. PSG’s players haven’t stopped complaining since. Their heads are gone!
Messi scores! It’s 3-4 on aggregate and PSG are on the ropes here. They’re in all sorts of bother as Messi shoots to the goalkeeper’s right from 12 yards. Camp Nou erupts.
48 min: Neymar goes down in the penalty area after tripping over Thomas Meunier, who was falling to the ground.
46 min: Julian Draxler has an early opportunity to ease the terror as he floats down the left flank and shapes to shoot. Javier Mascherano blocks to concede a corner, from which Draxler eventually shoots wildly over from the edge of the Barca penalty area.
PSG kick off. We’re away and running for a second half which PSG’s players must be absolutely dreading. If they somehow manage to mess this up, it will go down as one of the greatest chokes in football history- a total embarrassment. As Barcelona’s players waited out on the field, their PSG counterparts were having a very animated pow-wow in the tunnel. You can practically smell the fear.
Barcelona go in at half-time with half the job done. PSG’s players are disgracing themselves here and have already been reduced to persistently pleading with the referee to send various Barcelona players off. Neither goal will end up on the Barcelona showreel, but Luis Suarez and the hapless Kurzawa have given them a real chance.
45+2 min: Barcelona win another corner, as PSG’s visibly terrified players wilt in the Camp Nou cauldron. Half-time can’t come quickly enough for these chaps as yet another monotonously predictable French Champions League bottle job unfolds.
46 min: Rakitic sends another low cross into the PSG penalty area from the right, but it’s blocked.
44 min: Pique fouls Cavani, who demands the defender be shown a second yellow card. The refereee duly reaches into his pocket, takes out the card and shows it to the PSG striker, who goes completely berserk at being called out on his unsporting behaviour. Proper order.
42 min: I’m sure Andres Iniesta won’t mind me taking that goal away from him and chalking it up as a Layvin Kurzawa OG. It was a very odd goal - Iniesta slalomed towards the PSG goal and then back-heeled across the area. Kurzawa proceeded to haplessly hack the ball towards his own goal, where Trapp seemed to get a touch but couldn’t prevent it from crossing the line.
Barcelona pull back another goal and this one is even more scruffy than the last. Iniesta was the architect, but the ball seemed to pinball into the goal off three different PSG players.
39 min: There’s a break in play as Lucas Moura gets treatment for an injury.
38 min: Ivan Rakitic gets in behind the PSG defence and tries to play a deft back-heel to Luis Suarez, who is unable to keep the ball from running out of play for a goal kick.
36 min: Sergio Busquets gets the booking which will rule him out of Barcelona’s next European game ... whenever that might be.
34 min: Adrien Rabiot dawdles on the ball in the PSG midfield and is dispossessed. The ball’s played forward in a flash, but Luis Suarez’s first touch is poor - he is forced wider than he’d like and subsequently unable to get any power behind his shot. Trapp saves easily.
33 min: Rafinha picks up the ball on the right side of the PSG penalty area and threads a pass straight through Julian Draxler’s legs but straight into the hands of goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. That’s a poor pass. PSG are very compact and far more precision is required from Barcelona’s front men in and around their penalty area.
31 min: A wayward pass from Ivan Rakitic leads to Lucas Moura getting a shooting opportunity on the fringes of the Barcelona penalty area. He doesn’t quite put his boot through the ball and his weak effort bounces en route to the relieved embrace of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.
28 min: Meunier trips Neymar to concede a free-kick wide on the left touchline. The ball’s sent fizzing across the edge of the six-yard box, where Gerard Pique is penalised for offside. A wasted opportunity.
28 min: Andres Iniesta tries his luck with a drive from distance, but fires well high and wide.
27 min: Leo Messi shoots this free-kick straight into the wall. He appeals for handball after Kurzawa’s downward header hits Edinson Cavani’s arm, but again the referee isn’t interested..
25 min: Rafinha cuts inside from the right and is fouled by Layvin Kurzawa. Free-kick for Barcelona in another good position outside the PSG penalty area.
24 min: Gerard Pique is booked for sliding through the back of Edinson Cavani with his studs showing. I’d say that was a very dark yellow card, bordering on the pink side of red.
22 min: We’re 25% of the way into the game and Barcelona have done 25% of the work required to turn this around. PSG’s defending for the goal was atrocious, but replays show Luis Suarez did superbly to get the ball over the goalkeeper and under the bar from just five yards out. It required a very deft touch.
19 min: Barcelona continue to turn the screw, pressurising PSG’s defenders as Kevin Trapp rolls the ball their way to play it out from the back. It seems a strange tactic for the French side to employ when they could just lump the ball a little further up the field to get some breathing space.
17 min: Neymar tries his luck with a diagonal surface-to-air effort from distance that wafts wide of the far post. It was a decent effort, but Kevin Trapp looked to have the ball covered if it had been on target.
16 min: PSG get a free-kick wide on the right. Lucas Moura floats the ball towards the far post, where Marquinhos tries to head for goal, but Gerard Pique is there to avert the danger.
15 min: Wide! Leo Messi stepped up to take the kind of free-kick from which he has scored many, many times. He gets the ball up and down over the wall, but his effort fizzes just wide of the corner.
14 min: Draxler is booked for a trip on Leo Messi. Barcelona get a free-kick about 30 yards from the PSG goal, almost dead centre. Over to you, Lionel ...
13 min: Lucas Moura tries to play Edinson Cavani in behind the Barcelona defence, but Samuel Umtiti does enough to avert the danger.
11 min: A PSG counter-attack ends with a penalty appeal after a low Julian Draxler cross from the left hits the arm of Javier Mascherano, who’d got back well to slide in and intercept. The referee is having none of it, despite frantic appeals from Draxler and Edinson Cavani.
10 min: Another Barcelona corner. The ball’s sent in, half-cleared and bounces kindly for Javier Mascherano on the edge of the areaNever the most prolific of goalscorers, he shoots wide with a wild swipe.
9 min: Just before that corner, Neymar had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty ignored. He’d kicked the ball off a PSG player’s arm.
9 min: Barcelona win a corner, which is sent towards Gerard Pique. Marco Verratti clears for PSG.
7 min: More pressure from Barcelona. Leo Messi sends a cross towards the far post from the left, but there’s nobody present to convert it. Trapp gathers comfortably this time.
5 min: Blaise Matuidi is booked for a foul on Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. PSG have been sitting very deep in the early stages of this game and have had little or no possession.
4 min: What a start from Barcelona! There’s chaos in the PSG penalty area as the ball is played in from midfield. Rather than come and gather the ball comfortably, Trapp dithers and allows Suarez to head over the line from five or six yards. PSG right-back Thomas Meunier tried to hook the ball off the line, but it was well over.
It’s on! Luis Suarez opens the scoring for Barcelona!!!
2 min: Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Kevin Trapp has already been forced to rush a clearance under an intense press by Rafinha and Barcelona are putting PSG under intense pressure.
1 min: Barcelona kick off and look set to line up in the 3-3-1-3 formation that has served them so well in recent games, with Rafinha playing wide on the right as a wing-back. Neymar is wide on the left, with Luis Suarez as the front man. Leo Messi is, as expected, in a slightly more withdrawn role.
The teams line up in the tunnel and walk out on to the pitch to go through the final pre-match formalities before Barcelona attempt to do something no team in European Cup history has ever done: overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit. They’ve scored four or more goals in 15 games this season and PSG will have every right to fear the worst if they find themselves a goal or two down early doors. Their fans certainly look up for it - Camp Nou is stuffed to the rafters and a riot of colour.
“Foregone or four-goal conclusion?” he asks. “Today’s aggregate result appears to be a Foregone Conclusion to most. Still, my David Brent-like obliviousness has me clinging on to the slim hope that Barcelona can eke out a four-goal conclusion and drag this thing into extra time.”
Personally, I can see them scoring four. I can’t seeing PSG failing to trouble to scoreboard operator though. Barcelona’s defence is fairly poor and there are lot of very, very talented attackers on this Paris Saint-Germain team.
Barcelona: ter Stegen, Rafinha, Umtiti, Pique, Mascherano, Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Messi.
Subs: Cillessen, Turan, Alcacer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, Andre Gomes.
PSG: Trapp, Meunier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Kurzawa, Lucas Moura, Rabiot, Matuidi, Draxler, Verratti, Cavani.
Subs: Areola, Kimpembe, Krychowiak, Pastore, Di Maria, Aurier, Ben Arfa.
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
Presumably because of fitness concerns, Angel Di Maria will sit this game out and be replaced by Lucas on the right flank. Rafinha starts for Barcelona, having come on as a substitute in the first leg. We’ll have the full starting line-ups and lists of replacements for you very shortly.
Since losing 4-0 against PSG, Luis Enrique has changed Barcelona’s tactics, playing Lionel Messi in a more withdrawn No10 role, while Rafinha helped out alongside alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez. It’s not without risk and has helped the cause against worse opposition than PSG, but we’ll find out soon enough if Luis Enrique is going to adopt similar tactics tonight.
PSG’s coach was quietly confident going ahead of tonight’s second leg. “I have the same confidence in my team as before the first leg and the same respect for Barcelona,” he said. “Our only thought is to play the way we did in the first leg, without thinking about the result. We need to be ready to do everything: defend, attack, play together, cope when they are dominating, and make them suffer. We need to win our one-on-ones and on a collective level get the upper hand. That’s why we want to carry on where we left off in Paris. There is pressure of course. Tomorrow, what will be different is that Barça will have the fans behind them. We need to keep our usual philosophy.”
Asked if he thinks his side can come back from the hiding they took in Paris, Luis Enrique was reasonably upbeat about their chances. “I’ve been convinced for a couple of weeks that there will be a stage in the game where we will be close to achieving what we need,” he said. “If a team can score four against us then we can score six against them. The result in the first leg was very clear but this is a knockout tie and we’re only at half-time. Over 95 minutes, an infinite number of things can happen. Hopefully they will all be positive for us.”