MOTD- Barcelona 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain

Barcelona have earned a place in the Champions League semifinals, with the injection of a half-fit Lionel Messi making the difference. Barcelona started the match playing their usual tiki-taka style, and Xavi almost put them up after only two minutes when his curling free-kick from the edge of the box beat PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, but skimmed just wide of the far post.  Despite barely seeing the ball in the opening minutes, PSG settled into the match well, with Lucas Moura’s low drive from the edge of the box forcing a good save out of Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes.  PSG became more and more confident, and the French side did not let Barca spend too much time on the ball.  The match started to become very open, and Sirigu pushed Pedro’s low cross away just before it reached Xavi, before Iniesta did well to hit a drive straight at Sirigu in the twenty-fourth minute.  Seconds later PSG almost got in front when Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a brilliant through ball to Ezequiel Lavezzi who was making a run into the box.  Lavezzi took one touch to control it, before hitting a low shot that an oncoming Valdes awkwardly palmed away.

PSG became more and more threatening, and then almost went up in the twenty-eight minute when Marco Verratti chipped the ball over the Barca defense for Ibrahimovic.  The Swede took the ball down the left side of the box, before curling in a cross to Moura at the far post, who forced Valdes to punch his blazing header out for a corner.  Barca recovered after PSG’s short spell of dominance, but couldn’t find the back of the net, with David Villa and Cesc Fabregas both shooting over the bar, and after a minute of added time, the first half ended 0-0.

Amazingly, after Barca opened the second half well in control, PSG took the lead only five minutes into the half.  Javier Pastore played a pass to Ibrahimovic off a counter-attack, and Ibrahimovic spotted Pastore continuing his run down the left flank.   Barca defender Gerard Pique did not step forward to play for the offside, allowing Ibrahimovic to thread a perfect through ball to the run of Pastore, who controlled the ball before dinking it above Valdes into the back of the net.  Barca looked ragged and PSG almost put the tie to bed when Ibrahimovic found Pastore in the center of the box.  Wide open, Pastore horribly skewed his first time shot.  Even though only half-fit, Lionel Messi was introduced to the match in the sixty-second minute, and made an immediate impact.  Suddenly, PSG had to defend for their lives, with Barca dominating in dangerous positions.  Pique’s shot was cleared off the line in the sixty-fifth minute, before Iniesta played a nice one-two with Villa, allowing him to curl a shot on goal, which Sirigu palmed away.  Xavi had his long-range effort blocked, and in the seventieth minute Barca found their equalizer.  Messi dribbled through the heart of the PSG half, and slipped a beautiful pass through to David Villa’s run into the box.  Villa laid the ball back to Pedro, who powered a shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the box.

The Blaugrana quickly slowed the match down, and barely let PSG see the ball in the last couple minutes.   In the final minutes of the match Iniesta drilled a shot into the side netting after brilliantly losing two defenders by sliding the ball around his back with the outside of his foot, sending Christophe Jallet and Alex skittering by.  In the final seconds PSG tried to boot the ball up the field in order to score again, but their efforts were in vain, and after four minutes of injury-time the match ended 1-1, with The Blaugrana advancing to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive time.
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi made an immediate impact on the game, despite being only half-fit

Lionel Messi made an immediate impact on the game, despite being only half-fit

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