Full time: Bayer Leverkusen 0-4 Paris Saint-Germain
The flying Cabaye heads Van der Wiel’s cross straight at Leno, and moments later the final whistle goes. An unexpectedly easy night at the office for PSG, who clinch a quarter-final place with a game to spare. They are lively outsiders for this tournament, and not just because Paul Doyle said so. Thanks for your emails and especially your half-volleys; goodnight!
GOAL! Leverkusen 0-4 PSG (Cabaye 88)
This is a fine goal from the substitute Cabaye. Ibrahimovic found the overlapping Maxwell, whose deep cut back was a little behind Lucas. He rolled it back to the edge of the box for Cabaye, who placed a classy rising shot past Leno at the near post.
86 min Some action! Ibrahimovic, in an inside-left position, curls a beautiful low cross/pass towards Pastore, eight yards out, and his sliding shot is bravely blocked by Leno, who wears Pastore’s studs at the point of collision.
85 min I would describe the action, but I don’t like lying to you. A number of Leverkusen fans are doing the walk of sadness.
84 min “Michael Owen?” sniffs Paul Ewart. “But aren’t Bond villains extravagant and louche? I can’t see a Bond villain informing the world that he’d rather ‘hold it in’ than pay 30p for the use of a public convenience. On a train.”
When we do the Joy of Six: Footballer Tweet - and we will - that has to be be top of the list.
82 min After what happened in the first half Leverkusen will almost be relieved to have lost 3-0, which in itself is a bit humiliating. This game now resembles a lethargic pre-season friendly.
81 min “Sepp Blatter does have a passing resemblance to Joker from Batman,” says Ademola-Popoola Oreoluwa.
Christ, can you imagine how Blatter would behave in this situation.
80 min “I like Joey Barton as a Bond Villain,” says Allan Castle. “I can see the tweets now: ‘@GCHQ who’s laughing now? #crotchlaser #nuttedhimfirst’.”
77 min Leverkusen’s first decent chance of the match falls to Reinart, whose towering header from 10 yards is straight at Sirigu.
76 min The game is winding down. Lavezzi is replaced by Javier Pastore.
75 min “If you end up naming a bastardista (or even a Bond villain) XI then please make sure the magnificent Lothar Matheus is in it. I don’t know what he’s saying here but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great clip.”
Matthaus, Stefan Effenberg and Oliver Kahn, the greatest nemeses Bond never had.
73 min Nothing is really happening. Zlatan looks as if he’s wrestling with an internal dilemma: he wants a hat-trick, but can he really be bothered with the necessary effort. He is penalised, though not booked, for shoving Bender over off the ball.
72 min Brandt has lifted the mood as only young players can, and sparks a Leverkusen attack with an extravagant crossfield pass played with the outside of the foot. Nothing comes of it, mind.
71 min This is a great call from Phil Sawyer. “Evening, Rob darling. Zlatan would be a crap Bond villain. As would Keane. On the grounds that Bond would walk into the underground cave and immediately finger them as the villain. It’s the totally mundane ones who at first glance have nothing of interest to denote them who would make the best Bond villains. In which case, little Mickey Owen is quids in.”
And just imagine him saying ‘No Mr Bond, I want you to die’ in that voice. I’m shivering just thinking about it.
69 min “Hawrite Rob!” says Ryan Dunne. “Some good ideas, but we’ve missed the open goal of suggesting Sepp Blatter as a footballing Bond villain (probably already has the Volcano-based lair). Emailing this whilst checking my inbox for a reply to a Valentine’s Day email I sent to a girl (no reply as yet, but am blaming this on the UK/Boston time difference. Maybe it’s like five days behind instead of five hours!”
When you get married can I please come to your wedding? After this epic search for true love, I will hemorrhage tears of joy when you meet the one.
67 min That’s the end of Matuidi’s excellent performance, with Yohan Cabaye replacing him.
66 min An own-goal from the substitute Wollscheid is disallowed for an offside against Lavezzi, even though he didn’t touch the ball. Matuidi’s shot was saved by Leno, who pushed it onto the body of Wollscheid and into the net. That was probably the wrong decision but, well, who cares.
64 min The 17-year-old Julian Brandt, making his Champions League debut, wins a corner for Leverkusen. Yes, yes I know I didn’t inform you that he came on the field. I missed that. P45 please! He came on at half-time, it says here, presumably for Son Heung-Min.
63 min The diving in men’s football is so tedious and embarrassing. As my colleague Gary Naylor said the other day, it’s not that the players need to man up; they need to woman up.
61 min The Leverkusen fans are booing everything now. Leverkusen have brought on a centre-half, Philipp Wollscheid, to replace Sidney Sam.
SPAHIC SENT OFF
58 min Lucas tries to run Spahic down the right wing and goes down holding his snout. Castro is booked for disputing the free-kick - and now Spahic has been given a second yellow! That’s a pretty poor decision from the assistant, who advised the referee before the red card came out. Spahic put his hand across Lucas, and he did make contact with his face, but it wasn’t an elbow and it wasn’t deliberate. Lucas made the most of it in the tedious modern style, and now Leverkusen are down to ten men.
57 min Not much is happening.That’s the latest update from your award-winning Guardian.
55 min “I don’t think The Zlatan would be a good Bond villain,” says Justin Dingha. “As The Zlatan would give his plans to Bond ahead of time, as per the script, he would actually fulfill it with style and insouciance. Can you imagine a Bond villain pairing of The Zlatan and Berbatov? What chance would the mighty MI6 have?”
How about Roy Keane as a Bond villain? Now that I’d pay to see. “Listen, I don’t rate you as a secret agent, I don’t rate you as a lothario and I don’t rate you as a person. Stick your 007 up your bollix!”
52 min Leverkusen are playing with much greater intensity, however, and it’s fair to assume they had a not insignificant rollocking from Hyypia at half-time.
51 min If Leverkusen can nick one here ... it won’t change a thing, will it. Not even those Sky Sports News oddballs could talk this one up.
50 min Ibrahimovic, of course, is now the leading scorer in this season’s competition with 10.
49 min “I wasn’t sure what the rules were for a half volley but reckon it’s the same as in tennis ie ball and ground basically together,” says Dennis Johns. “That’s not the point of this though. Sunday Oliseh’s winner in the 3-2 against Spain is the point of this. I’d rather have scored that goal than any other goal I’ve ever seen, I reckon.”
47 min Lucas, on the halfway line, slithers neatly between Guardado and Castro, who both pull him back. Guardado is booked.
46 min Leverkusen begin the second half. The captain Simon Rolfes has been replaced by Stefan Reinartz.
“A self-made half volley?” says Niall Mullen. “A masterpiece nonetheless.”
Oh aye. There’s something wonderfully deranged about that goal, as if an invisible man slipped a marmot down his pants just as he controlled the ball on his chest.
Here’s Zlatan putting the hurt on Leverkusen just before half time.
Shouting, Lager, Lager, Lager
“Two goals, what a bastard!” - Emil Lager.
“A true half-volley must be hit just a split second after the ball has bounced, so that the bounce and contact are almost simultaneous. Anything else and it’s no longer a true half-volley. To use tennis as an example, every shot would be a half-volley if we used the ‘hit it after it’s bounced’ definition. Without bouncing = volley. On the bounce = half-volley” - Simon McMahon.
“Talking of commentary...” - Daniel Harris.
“Didn’t Henry sidefoot it to the far corner with an air of studied nonchalance every bleeding time? A very great player, a maddeningly predictable finisher” - Phil Podolsky.
Half time: Bayer Leverkusen 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain
A complete mismatch, sad to say. PSG have better players, more confidence, more conviction - and they have Zlatan, who after a quiet start to the game scored a monstrous third goal just before half time. See you in 15 minutes.
44 min “A great Tom Huddlestone half volley here,” says Phil Cowen. “The most impressive thing is how easy he makes this look.”
He has one serious sweet spot, that lad. I thought he would turn out to be a much better player than he has, good though he obviously is.
What a hit! Matuidi received Maxwell’s cross from the left in the area, back to goal. He was under pressure, falling backwards, but managed to ease the ball towards Ibrahimovic, just outside the area to the left of centre. He stomped onto the ball and, first time, boomed a left-footed shot across goal that swerved away from Leno and roared into the top corner. That was a bona fide blooter-belter from PSG’s bastardista. To use the old line from Sir Alex Ferguson, he hit that ball like he wanted to kill it. Glorious.
GOAL! Leverkusen 0-3 PSG (Ibrahimovic 42)
This is a laughably good goal from Ibrahimovic.
GOAL! Leverkusen 0-2 PSG (Ibrahimovic 39 pen)
PSG are into the quarter-finals. Ibrahimovic sidefoots an excellent penalty into the bottom-left corner. Leno went the right way but it was hit with good pace and into the side netting.
It seemed that PSG had missed a great chance, when Matuidi miscontolled Maxwell’s low cross a few yards from goal. But, to general confusion around the ground, the referee penalised Spahic for pulling Lavezzi off the ball at the near post. Spahic was booked and the commentators are suggesting it’s an excellent spot from the referee. I’m not sure as I missed the replay while urgently typing PENALTY!
PENALTY TO PSG
What’s going on here then?
37 min “Would Eric Cantona be a bastardista?” asks Robin Hazlehurst. “In a sort of thinking man’s Vinnie Jones way? Incidentally, kicking the ball just as it hits the ground is called a drop-kick I believe, so the obvious half volley champion is Jonny Wilkinson. Or something.”
I’m confused now. It rarely takes much. As for Cantona, definitely. Comical arrogance is perhaps the defining quality of the bastardista.
36 min Spahic’s bouncing long-ranger is comfortably held by Sirigu. That’s Leverkusen’s first shot on target.
35 min Ibrahimovic flicks the ball arrogantly, delightfully, imperiously straight out for a throw-in. He hasn’t had his best game, though that’s part of the deal with such an unpredictable genius.
33 min “Freudian,” is the subject of Matt Dony’s email. “Evening, R-Smy. Each time I see Spahic, I misread it as Sapphic. Not sure what that says about me...”
That’s a fascinating coincidence because every time I see Spahic I misread it as WHAT THE HELL BECAME OF MY CAREER.
30 min Son almost slips a short-range return pass through a pack of defenders to put Bender through on goal. Instead it is blocked, after which Verratti dribbles his way out of trouble with an impressively arrogant certainty. He looks a player.
29 min “Have you read the magnificent bastardista’s book?” says Niall Mullen. “It is, by all accounts, magnificent.” No but it’s sitting impatiently on my bookshelf. As soon as I finish Wayne Mardle’s Hawaii 501 I shall read it.
28 min Leverkusen move the ball nicely across the field to the overlapping Hilbert. His cross, alas, isn’t worth a damn. But this is a better spell for Leverkusen. Moments later Hilbert slithers past Lavezzi and puts over an excellent dipping cross towards Kiessling, near the penalty spot. Alex gets there just before him to clear awkwardly.
27 min “Rob Lee ‘scored’ a cracker against Brentford in Newcastle’s 1992-3 promotion season,” says Paul O’Keefe. “Unfortunately, it was disallowed because of an offside call against a Brentford player in the Newcastle half.”
Does that count as a half-volley? Either way, it’s a ridiculous goal - especially as in those pre-Beckham days there were very few goals from 50 yards or more, certainly in this country.
25 min Leverkusen are being totally outplayed. They look pretty low on confidence, probably a consequence of their poor recent form. They need to keep it like this till half-time and then hope for a change of mood in the second half.
22 min Spahic is perhaps harshly penalised for a push on Ibrahomvic, who moves his hands back and forth in a semi-circle to remind Spahic of the purpose of football. Nothing comes from the free-kick.
20 min “What does it mean to be a bastardista?” says Emil Lager. “To have long hair and be a villain on the pitchbut quite ok off it? To play in the same team as Elmander for Sweden and never say anything patronizing to/about the Norwich “striker” is saint-like behavior.Remember those videos of Messi when he shouted “pass me the ball, looser!” toTello? That is more bastardista to me..PS I know Z will get sent off tonight just to prove me wrong...”
Sorry, I should have clarified. Bastardista is a team of endearment. Even Zlatan’s biggest fans would surely admit there is something of the magnificent Hollywood supervillain about him. Actually, he’d be a fantastic Bond villain. Zlatan, the taekwondo master.
18 min Leverkusen get a breather when Kiessling, their disingenuous nine, pulls wide and is fouled by Maxwell. Castro’s low, curling cross from the right brings a header from Kiessling that bounces up and is tipped over by Sirigu, though it’s all moot as Kiessling was offside.
17 min This has been a performance of cool authority from PSG, both with and without the ball. They are winning it back very efficiently and often high up the pitch, which of course is how the goal came about.
15 min At the moment PSG look much better than Leverkusen, who despite being a) at home and b) a goal down have no choice but to play like the away side for now. Their burgeoning frustration manifests itself in an ill-advised lunge on Ibrahimovic by Hilbert, who is booked.
11 min That should have been 2-0 to PSG. Van der Wiel’s hanging cross from the right was dropped miserably by
poor Leno, under a bit of pressure from Matuidi but nothing untoward. It came to Ibrahimovic, eight yards out, and his furious first-time half-volley struck Omer Toprak right into the breadbasket before deflecting away from goal. Moments later Lavezzi, under considerable pressure from Hilbert, mishit a difficult volley.
9 min Guardado’s left-wing cross ricochets towards Sam, near the penalty spot, and with defenders converging he spanks a first-time shot into orbit. It was a difficult chance.
8 min “Told you about Ma tuidi,” says Alex Netherton, who did precisely that when I
got him to write my preamble for me picked his brain on PSG this afternoon.
7 min PSG win a free-kick in an ominous position, 25 yards out and very central. The bastardista is over the ball, and he thrashes it straight into the wall. He hit that like he wanted to hurt someone in the wall rather than score a goal.
4 min Matuidi, who is a zesty little bugger in midfield, is booked for a sliding foul on Sidney Sam.
Matuidi started and finished the move. He snapped at Rolfes’ heels in midfield, gave the ball to Ibrahimovic on the right and kept going. Ibrahimovic gave it back infield to Verratti, who slipped a nice angled pass through a big hole in the defence, and Matuidi sidefooted it under Leno with his left foot from 15 yards. Leno, who got a pretty strong hand on it, might feel he should have done better. It was a good ball from Verratti, though, played between defenders and weighted immaculately so that Matuidi could take the shot first time on the run.
GOAL! Leverkusen 0-1 PSG (Matuidi 3)
This is far too easy for PSG.
2 min “I’d recommend Nick Henry’s half volley in the replay in 1990,” says Gerald Aston. A wonderful save from poor old Jim Leighton, as well. That Oldham are another reminder why winning isn’t everything. The greatest neutral’s favourites in English football history.
1 min The Paristas, in white, kick off from right to left. Leverkusen are wearing very, very, very, very, very dark blue.
What is a half-volley? We’ve had a few suggestions that involve players hottong a ball that has bounced once - hence the half - but I always thought a half-volley was when the ball hit both the player kicked the ball just as it hit the ground.
“I would love it if my dying words were Matt Le Tissier – I love that man,” Iwouldloveits Rachel Clifton. “How can you beat that goal against Newcastle? Not that I don’t love Rickie Lambert, but you can’t beat Le Tiss…”
The best thing about that goal - and the volley later on - is that it was his first game back in the team, because Ian Branfoot had dropped him for a month! Branfoot picked a front two of Paul Moody and Iain Dowie ahead of Le Tissier. He picked Frankie Bennett, who would spend his early thirties playing for Forest Green Rovers, Aberystwyth and Weston-super-Mare, as substitute ahead of Le Tissier. That really is heroically thick management.
“Favourite half-volley?” says Tom Hopkins. “I’m going with Charlie George, 27 October 1975. First goal of a hat-trick against Real Madrid no less. Tried it myself many times. Fell over my own feet. Every. Single. Time.”
“Evening Rob,” says Joe Ludlam. “Here’s a half-volley for you. John Sheridan in the 1991 League Cup final, not just for the sweetness of the strike but the sound it makes as the ball ricochets from Sealey’s gloves onto the post before the roar of the crowd kicks in. I often wonder why modern TV coverage doesn’t give the option of listening to crowd noise rather than commentary, as it is one of the most important aspects of attending a live game.”
And commentary in this country, with a few exceptions, is pretty poor these days. It’s strange that as punditry has improved, so commentary has regressed.
This is a seriously accomplished half-volley, too, especially as it was a late equaliser in a game so spiteful - there was a fight in the tunnel at half-time - that losing wasn’t an option. I’m surprised more people don’t regard Ole Solskjaer as the greatest finisher of the Premier League era; it’s certainly the case that nobody had his range, though you can understand why people would go for Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry. I’d pick Solskjaer, mind. I’m sure he’s thrilled.
Bayer Leverkusen (4-3-3) Leno; Hilbert, Spahic, Omer Toprak, Guardado; Bender, Rolfes, Castro; Sam, Kiessling, Son Heung-Min.
Substitutes: Yelldell, Reinartz, Wollscheid, Hegeler, Oztunali, Boenisch, Brandt.
Paris Saint-Germain (4-3-3) Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell; Verratti, Thiago Motta, Matuidi; Lucas, Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi.
Substitutes: Douchez, Cabaye, Marquinhos, Menez, Digne, Rabiot, Pastore.
Referee Victor Kassai (Hungary)
Crowdsourcing for a future Joy of Six unapologetically disguised as a vague riff for the evening
What’s your favourite half-volley ever? Doesn’t have to have ended in a goal. I’ll start with an obvious but irresistible choice, 3m 10s into the below video. There are people who grew up in the 1990s whose dying words will be ‘Matt Le Tissier’, so loved was he. He didn’t win a single trophy, he never had an ice bath, and he got himself a McMuffin on the way to training most mornings, on one occasion having so many that he had a fainting fit. There’s a point there somewhere.
If this doesn’t get you in the mood, nothing will
The atmosphere will be magnificent in Leverkusen tonight, as it always is. Every time a German crowd reaches a certain decibel level, an avaricious goon at the Premier League should be sacked.
France are the great underachievers of European club football. They have won two major international tournaments and two European trophies. Contrast that with Spain (two international tournaments, 33 European trophies) and England (one international tournament, 31 European trophies) in particular and you realise there is an unusual relationship between France’s achievements at club and international level. Even one of those two European triumphs, Marseille’s Champions League victory in 1992-93, was discredited.
There are a number of possible reasons for this, from the tax laws to mentality to a culture of selling star players abroad that became entrenched in the 1990s. What is clear is this: French club football needs to pull its bloody finger out! Since Monaco reached the final a decade ago, in the Champions League’s open season, France has had just one European Cup semi-finalist: Lyon in 2010.
That may change this year. Although this is an intimidatingly strong last 16, Paris Saint-Germain are dangerous outsiders who could even become the first team from outside Europe’s big four leagues to win the competition since Fingers Mourinho’s merry men beat Monaco a decade ago.
Our French football expert Paul Doyle, the best judge of modern football at the Guardian, reckons PSG are among the favourites to win the tournament, and wise men don’t argue with Doyle. (I still have the bruise to remind me of the time I tried to give everyone in the office nicknames based on J-Lo, and Doyle got the wrong end of the stick.)
PSG are certainly strong favourites to get past Bayer Leverkusen, not least as they have God on their side in the magnificently villainous Zlatan Ibrahimovic, world football’s premier bastardista. Leverkusen are unfairly belittled in this country because they conceded nine in two games against Manchester United – quite an achievement, in fairness - and because they are not managed by a man with glasses, a beard and a love of heavy metal. Yet they are above Borussia Dortmund in the table despite a poor recent run of form.
The 2002 Leverkusen were like 2013 Dortmund, only better. Ultimately they were specialists in failure yet proved that style, charm, charisma and an unshamed love of beer and fags are sometimes more enduring than victory. That Leverkusen side almost added a new name to the European Cup; PSG are looking to do the same this year. Will they? No, but don’t say that to Paul Doyle’s face.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm.