PLAYER RATINGS | Barcelona 1-4 PSG – Les Parisiens qualify for UCL semi-finals with huge comeback victory

UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg, 16/04/2024

Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain (4-6 on aggregate)

Paris Saint-Germain came from behind against Barcelona to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League with an emphatic and historic 4-1 victory away from home. Luis Enrique became the first ex-Barça manager to knock out the Catalan side in the Champions League, whilst Les Parisiens turn around an away deficit in the Champions League knockout second leg for the very first time thanks to goals from Dembélé, Vitinha, and a brace from Kylian Mbappé,.

PSG needed a performance of historic proportions away from home to try and overturn last week’s chaotic 3-2 loss at the Parc des Princes. Luis Enrique’s men began the game with plenty of intent, dominating the ball in the early stages and managing to work the ball into the box. Yet, it was the Catalan side who managed to open the scoring (albeit against the run of play) by the 11th minute. Barça’s Lamine Yamal drove down the right side and provided a perfect square ball for a well-positioned Raphinha to turn home to open the scoring for the home side.

With the aggregate lead set at 4-2, things were looking increasingly desperate for PSG, but Kylian Mbappé had two great chances to reduce the lead — firstly with a low shot on goal, and then a header which flew over the bar. Les Parisiens would then be handed a potential route back into the game, as Ronald Ajaúro was immediately sent off for bringing down Bradley Barcola who was bearing down on goal after beating the Barça defender for pace.

PSG would then get a deserved goal to get them back into the tie through Ousmane Dembélé, after a wicked pass flashed in front of the six-yard box by Bradley Barcola. The former Barça man got his second goal against the Catalan side with an emphatic strike into the roof of the net.

A Huge Second half for PSG and Luis Enrique

The beginning of the second half would mirror that of the first, with Enrique’s side playing with intensity and with several waves of incisive attacks within the first five minutes. Achraf Hakimi’s stinging. shot was diverted onto the bar by Ter Stegen, before Barcola almost finished from a tight angle only minutes later.

Vitinha would put PSG ahead with a fine strike from the edge of the box, rifling low past Ter Stegen to his left side as Les Parisiens levelled up the aggregate score. It was a leveller which saw Barça and especially Xavi, lose control on tie, as PSG showed a rarely seen mental maturity on the biggest stage of European football. Xavi would be sent off by referee Istvan Kovacs and it took only a few minutes for PSG to complete the comeback and take the lead in the tie on the hour mark…

This time Bradley Barcola was involved once again down PSG’s right side, and his drive into the box invited a clumsy challenge from Joao Cancelo, as the referee pointed to the spot for a clear penalty. Then came the moment that mattered, and none other than Kylian Mbappé stepped up to dispatch confidently and put PSG in the driving seat to qualify for the semi-finals.

Wary of Barça’s first leg comeback, Enrique’s side wouldn’t want to let the hosts mount a counter-offensive, with the final 20 minutes coming under extreme tension. If the pressure valve was increasing, it would be quickly released with little time remaining on the clock as PSG broke through on the counter-attack and Kylian Mbappé finished at close range at the second bite of the cherry. A tie quickly finished off, and a semi-final against previous group opponents Borussia Dortmund awaits…

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN PLAYER RATINGS

Gianluigi Donnarumma, 4 – An improvement on his first leg performance, the Italian looked more confident and had little to do in terms of dramatic goal-mouth action. Yet, he admittedly could have done better to prevent Raphinha’s opener, but struck at close range at such pace made it difficult to keep out the back of the net. Some wobbly moments in the last quarter of normal time.

Nuno Mendes, 5 – The Portuguese defender played with plenty of intent and energy, but wasn’t as effective as he has been offensively. However, that could be attributed to blistering performances from both Dembélé and Ruiz on his habitual left side. He was outsmarted by Yamal for the opener but otherwise defended well against Barça and was effective in possession in overall play.

Lucas Hernández, 5 – He dealt with Lewandowski much much better than in the first leg, perhaps learning from mistakes made by both himself and Beraldo at the Parc des Princes. A solid if uninspiring performance from the France international.

Marquinhos, 5 – The Brazilian brought an element of calm needed to stage any potential comeback against this Barcelona side away from home. While he cut out mistakes which saw PSG exposed at this stage in the Champions League in the past, there were some key leadership qualities shown which were somewhat missing in the first leg. Vital block in the last ten minutes.

Achraf Hakimi, 5 – Hakimi became the Moroccan player with the most appearances in the Champions League tonight, and was solid enough defensively if a little uninspiring going forward. He was at fault for not properly tracking Raphinha for the opening goal, but seemed to rectify things on the defensive front form then onwards.

Fabiàn Ruiz, 6 – One of the best performances from the Spaniard on the European stage with PSG, set the pace and energy in midfield in and out of possession and was key in the first half to mount a counter-offensive after Barça’s opener.

Vitinha, 7 – A sensational performance from the Portugal midfielder, leading with dynamism on the ball and capped off with a sensational finish to level the tie on aggregate at a vital period of the second half.

Warren Zaïre-Emery, 5

Ousmane Dembélé, 7 – Another great performance form the France international, his goal came at a vital juncture in the tie, but Dembouz was terrorising Barça’s defence in usual fashion with his driving runs and tricky dribbling in the attacking half.

Kylian Mbappé, 5 – After a dismal showing in the first leg, things could only look up for the France captain. He started the game at No.9 and the first half saw a lot of the same: a lack of intensity and concentration saw minimum involvement in attacking play. Yet, he generally improved in the second half and made the difference where it mattered by converting a vital a penalty to put Les Parisiens ahead in the tie. His second came rather fortunately, but the Frenchman showed his killer touch to finish the tie off and send PSG to the semi-finals.

Bradley Barcola, 7 – One of the best performances in a PSG shirt for Barcola, who threatened all night long down the right side with his driving runs. He was involved for the sending off, as well as drawing the foul for PSG’s decisive penalty converted by Mbappé. The Frenchman was simply a joy to watch, providing the assist for Dembélé’s equaliser at a vital crossroads moment for PSG in the tie.

Others: Asensio, 5, Manuel Ugarte, 5, Lee Kang-In, 4, Randal Kolo Muani, 4

SELECTED BARCELONA PLAYER RATINGS

Lamine Yamal, 6

Jules Koundé, 5

Robert Lewandowski, 4

GFFN | George Boxall

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