UCL Round of 16: Messi’s Barcelona fall to PSG


Lionel Messi and Barcelona gave it their all but it was 90 minutes too late as the Catalans despite 20 attempts on the PSG goal could not overturn a first leg 4-1 deficit. The second leg of the round of 16 tie with PSG ended 1-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday not for want of trying but a wasteful Ousmane Dembele missed sitters which could have given Barcelona a chance of overturning the result.

Ronald Koeman will wish he still had Luis Suarez in place of the profligate Ousmane Dembele who had at least three goal-scoring chances before PSG scored the first goal of the encounter. In the 11th minute, he was sent through on goal by a pass from Jordi Alba but his effort was tame and easy for Keylor Navas.

Two minutes later, another chance fell to the French forward but his left-footed effort lacked direction. The face of Koeman said more than words from the bench. Again, in the 19th minute, another ball over the top, and Dembele used his pace to get inside the box ahead of Marquinhos but again, his finish was straight at Navas when he had a wide enough target to shoot at.

On 24 minutes, Sergino Dest’s cross cum shot caught Navas unawares but the PSG goalkeeper reacted quickly enough to divert the effort unto the crossbar. A minute later, Dembele tried to tee up Messi inside the box but the pass was inches too long with Messi stretching all his frame to get a toe on the ball.

Then PSG were awarded a fortuitous penalty after Clement Lenglen caught Mario Icardi. Referee Anthony Taylor consulted VAR to confirm the penalty which Mbappe dispatched past Marc Andre Ter-Stegen to give the Parisians an unlikely lead on 30 minutes.

Dembele missed another opportunity in a one-on-one situation with Navas before Barcelona responded through Messi, with one of the UCL goals of the season as his shot from over 30 yards swerved and dipped, and beat Navas all ends up. Three minutes later, the referee blew for a Barcelona penalty after Antoine Griezmann was clipped in the box by Larvyn Kurzawa. Messi stepped and blasted the ball down the middle but Navas made the save with his knee.

The second half was all about containment as PSG held firm to make it into the UCL quarter-final for a second consecutive season.

In the other game of the day, Liverpool held their nerves and scored two second half goals through Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to make it 4-0 on aggregate and gain some respite from an abysmal run in the EPL.

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