Barcelona beat PSG 3-1 in CL quar­ter­fi­nal

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOHN LE­ICES­TER

Lionel Messi set up Ney­mar’s opener and Luis Suarez scored twice to give Barcelona a 3- 1 victory against a strug­gling Paris Sain­tGer­main on Wed­nes­day that leaves the four-time cham­pion with one foot in the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nals.

Af­ter Ney­mar slot­ted home in the 18th minute, Suarez ducked and weaved through the Paris de­fense for his first goal in the 67th be­fore ghost­ing past PSG de­fender David Luiz to score his sec­ond.

PSG pulled a goal back in the 82nd when Gre­gory van der Wiel’s long- range ef­fort de­flected off Barcelona’s Jeremy Mathieu.

Sus­pen­sions and in­juries fa­tally weak­ened Paris in a de­mand­ing quar­ter­fi­nal first leg match. In attack, missed chances and sloppy con­trol from Edin­son Ca­vani made the ab­sence of suspended striker Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic keenly felt.

In the evening’s other match, Porto sprang a ma­jor sur­prise by beat­ing Bay­ern Mu­nich 3-1.

PSG’s first Euro­pean home de­feat in 34 games leaves it with a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble task when it trav­els to Barcelona next week for the re­turn leg.

Barcelona failed to make the semi­fi­nals last sea­son but looks al­most cer­tain to this time af­ter a per­for­mance on a balmy Paris night that ex­posed a gulf be­tween the two sides.

With Marco Ver­ratti suspended and Thi­ago Motta in­jured, Paris was forced to fall back on a makeshift mid­field of Blaise Ma­tu­idi, Yo­han Cabaye and Adrien Rabiot, who were play­ing to­gether for the first time this sea­son in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Paris quickly paid for Rabiot’s youth­ful in­ex­pe­ri­ence. Just 17 min­utes in, Ser­gio Bus­quets, play­ing his 63rd Cham­pi­ons League game, dis­pos­sessed the 20-year- old mak­ing just his sec­ond start this sea­son in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Bus­quets found Messi with a loop­ing pass and the four-time world player of the year set off at speed to­ward the backpedalling PSG de­fense, be­fore cut­ting through it with a neat pass to Ney­mar.

The Brazil in­ter­na­tional made no mis­take, with a right-footed shot past Sal­va­tore Sirigu.

Paris squan­dered chances, with Ca­vani miss­ing a sit­ter in the 28th minute.

Af­ter a Barcelona cor­ner, Ma­tu­idi broke at pace down the left and fed Eze­quiel Lavezzi. The zippy Ar­gen­tine checked, throw­ing off his marker, and found Ca­vani in acres of space alone in the mid­dle.

How­ever, his goalscor­ing in­stincts de­serted him, with poor con­trol and hes­i­ta­tion al­low­ing de­fender Javier Mascher­ano to slide in and sti­fle the dan­ger.

PSG will be hop­ing that Ibrahi­movic pro­vides that miss­ing bite in attack next week on his re­turn from a one-match ban.

AP

Barcelona’s Ney­mar, cen­ter, tries an over­head kick watched by team­mate Lionel Messi, right, dur­ing the quar­ter­fi­nal first leg Cham­pi­ons League soc­cer match be­tween Paris Saint-Ger­main and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes sta­dium in Paris on Wed­nes­day, April 15.

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