A first-half brace from Neymar was enough to give Barcelona a 2-0 victory over PSG and secure their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona started slowly before Neymar broke the deadlock in the 13th minute, Lionel Messi and Dani Alves came close before the Brazilian forward got his and Barca’s second twenty minutes after his first.
Ivan Rakitic, Yohan Cabaye and Messi all had good chances before Marco Verratti dragged an excellent shot wide in the 59th minute. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edison Cavani came close to getting one back towards the end but their efforts weren’t enough.
Barcelona had the edge over their opponents going into the second leg after a goal from Neymar and a Luis Suarez brace giving Luis Enrique’s side a 3-1 victory at the Parc Des Princes last Wednesday.
The home side stretched their lead in the 13th minute, midfielder Andrea Iniesta went on a mazy run getting beyond four players before sliding the ball through to Neymar. The Brazilian coolly went past keeper Salvatore Sirigu and slotted it into the net.
After going behind PSG began to pick up their game and Ibrahimović had the ball in the net after Blaise Matuidi’s excellent back heel assist but the Swedish striker was flagged offside.
Barcelona were proven stubborn to break down by Laurent Blanc’s side while their domination continued, Dani Alves played a ball from the by-line to Suarez who teed it up for Messi but his volley was well over.
The Brazilian full-back had a great opportunity in 24th minute when he hit a fizzing shot from distance which Sirigu could only palm into the air, Neymar got a header onto the free ball but the Italian keeper managed to grab it.
Twelve minutes from the break Neymar rounded off the tie, his compatriot Alves whipped an excellent ball into a free Neymar who easily headed it beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Barcelona continued to dominate after the break with Rakitic hitting a first-time shot from distance but it was easy for Sirigu to collect. Cabaye had an effort similar to the Croatian’s in the 50th minute as he attempted the spectacular but the shot was well wide.
A minute later Neymar played it off to Messi who attempted to chip the keeper but Sirigu grabbed it out of the air easily. Around the hour mark Verratti had the away side’s best opportunity of the clash, the Italian had plenty of time to set himself up for a shot but he managed to drag it wide.
A brilliant piece of defending from David Luiz prevented his side going three behind, Alves played another excellent ball into the box this time looking for Suarez but the Brazilian defender got ahead of the striker to put it behind. In the 72nd minute Ibrahimović had his first real opportunity of the match, the ball was played into the Swede who hit a sweet shot from just outside the box which was well saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and then cleared by Gerard Pique.
Laurent Blanc’s side continued to push for a consolation goal and Cavani almost got it in the 78th minute. Substitute Lucas produced a fancy back heel which the Uruguayan got to ahead of the keeper before passing it to Matuidi, his effort was deflected back to the striker but he only found the side netting.
Substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi had a good opportunity after he got the ball back from Ibrahimović but his shot was well saved by Ter Stegen. The final opportunity of the match fell to Messi, in the final minute of extra time the Argentine stood on the edge of the area but his curling shot just went wide of the right post.
It wasn’t a classic performance from Barcelona but they played sensibly and did enough to beat the French side on the night and securing their place in their seventh European semi-final in eight seasons in style.
This defeat has ended PSG’s aspirations of clinching a spectacular quadruple with Neymar’s brace just proving too much for them to handle. Despite this defeat they can now focus on securing a treble and with changes that were made throughout the second half it seems that they are now focused on a tough fight to secure the Ligue 1 title.
Danial Kennedy [@Danialkennedy95]