Barca super subs down PSG in Champions League thriller

Andreas Christensen scored a late winner with his first touch after coming off the bench as Barcelona used their super subs to beat PSG 3-2 to take control of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

A brilliant night at the Parc des Princes started with PSG dominating the opening 15 minutes with six shots on goal, but they were behind at half-time thanks to Raphinha’s breakaway goal (37).

But PSG came out firing after the break as two goals in the space of two minutes and 13 seconds from Ousmane Dembele (48) and Vitinha (50) turned the match on its head.

Then came the arrival of Barcelona’s super subs as Pedri emerged off the bench and – with his first touches – set up Raphinha (62) for an equaliser via a stunning volley.

PSG's Vitinha celebrates after scoring his side's second goal
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Vitinha celebrates after completing a quickfire turnaround for PSG at the start of the second half

PSG then hit the woodwork twice through Bradley Barcola and Dembele, but former Chelsea defender Christensen (77) nodded in the match-settling goal from close range from a corner just seconds after entering the pitch.

It rounded off a topsy-turvy first-leg encounter, ahead of the decisive return fixture in Barcelona next week.

How Barcelona put one foot in the semi-finals

PSG tried to make their home advantage count early on with a flurry of early chances.

Kylian Mbappe fired wide from inside the box, before Kang-In Lee and Marco Asensio tested goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s palms from outside the box. Nuno Mendes nearly scored a brilliant solo goal but a last-ditch block from Ronald Araujo blocked his effort inside the penalty area.

But Barcelona grew into the game after a tricky start and nearly took the lead as Robert Lewandowski beat Gianluigi Donnarumma at a corner, but Mendes scampered back to clear off the line.

Raphinha then tested the PSG goalkeeper with a stunning long-range drive which needed to be tipped wide, but the Brazilian eventually got his opener eight minutes before half-time.

Barcelona's Raphinha celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
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Raphinha put Barca ahead in the first half

Lewandowski did brilliantly to feed teenager Lamine Yamal down the right, his cross was palmed into the path of Raphinha, who found the top corner after adjusting his feet.

That goal acted as a sucker punch for PSG at half-time but the French side came out galvanised and six minutes into the second period, they had two goals to put them ahead.

First, Dembele latched onto Mbappe’s cleared cross to fire a thunderbolt into the roof of the net. Then, Vitinha was slipped in by Fabian Ruiz and the PSG midfielder tucked in a finish past Ter Stegen.

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Tim Sherwood was forced into a U-turn after his criticism of Paris Saint-Germain’s performance was followed by two quick goals from the French side!

Then chaos ensued in a topsy-turvy match. Lewandowski inexplicably put a free header wide from eight yards out, while PSG half-time substitute Barcola saw his rasping effort tipped onto the bar by Ter Stegen.

But just moments after Pedri was introduced by Xavi, Barcelona were level. The Spanish midfielder’s first touch of the game was to control the ball, the second to lift a stunning ball over the top for Raphinha, who volleyed home with the outside of his boot.

Back came PSG in search of their lead back. Barcola was denied by Araujo’s last-ditch challenge before Dembele hit the foot of the post after being played in by Vitinha.

Two minutes later, Barcelona landed the final blow. A simple corner found Christensen unmarked in the box and his header flew past the helpless Donnarumma.

PSG were shattered once again and their best chance fell to Mbappe, who had a shot deflected just wide in the third minute of stoppage time. If the Barcelona leg is half as exciting as this one, we are in for a treat.

What’s next?

The second leg sees PSG travel to Barcelona on Tuesday April 16 (8pm).

Barcelona visit Cadiz in LaLiga on Saturday (8pm), before hosting the Ligue 1 champions in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

PSG have the weekend off.

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CL talking points: Rejuvenated Sancho; Mbappe to cement PSG legacy?

Sancho to showcase revived form?

GRAPHIC

Manchester United’s forgotten man Jadon Sancho will aim to showcase his revived form when Borussia Dortmund go to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

After being left out of Erik ten Hag’s plans since August, it was no surprise it took the 24-year-old winger some time to get going on loan at Dortmund – but he looks to be back up to speed now.

Wednesday’s CL quarter-final first legs

  • Atletico Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund (8pm)
  • Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona (8pm)

Before the international break there were goals in back-to-back games, including the opener in the last-16 second leg with PSV to help Dortmund to this stage. Since then he has sparkled in the 2-0 win at Bayern Munich, where he topped the dribbling stats, and stood out in the defeat to Stuttgart, where he created no fewer than seven chances for his team-mates.

United’s Champions League ambitions for this season have long been over – but Sancho will aim to show his parent club what they are missing this week.
Peter Smith

CL would be perfect PSG farewell for Mbappe

March 5, 2024, Donostia / San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain: Kylian Mbappe (forward; Paris Saint-Germain) in action during the UEFA Champions League match between Real Sociedad vs Paris Saint-Germain UEFA Champions League at Reale Arena / Anoeta Stadium on March 5, 2024 in Donostia / San Sebastian, Spain (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
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Kylian Mbappe is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer

Kylian Mbappe was a world champion before he reached the age of 20. However, now aged 25, the Champions League continues to be the prize that alludes him.

Mbappe’s long-term future seems to lie elsewhere but the Frenchman will be keen to lead Paris Saint-Germain to their first Champions League trophy and cement his legacy at the club.

Rumours of a departure have resulted in a disjointed season at the Parc des Princes. Cryptic comments from head coach Luis Enrique and time on the bench has been the story of what is expected to be his final campaign with the French club.

Despite the drama, Mbappe has still enjoyed a return of 39 goals in all competitions, including six in this season’s Champions League. PSG’s quarter-final tie against Barcelona will give the French forward another opportunity to write himself into football folklore.

Barcelona will be wary of the prospect of coming up against Mbappe, who has scored four goals in just two games against them.

The Spanish champions’ 6-1 comeback in 2017 preceded Mbappe’s move to Paris, but PSG’s hopes to avenge the result will surely rest at the feet of their star forward.

Real Madrid is expected to be his next destination. Should that be the case Mbappe has the chance to endear himself to the fans before even pulling on the famous white strip.
William Bitibiri

Champions League matches go ahead amid alleged terror threat

UEFA says this week’s Champions League quarter-final ties will go ahead as scheduled amid an alleged terror threat.

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in north London will host the first leg of the Gunners’ last-eight tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening, while Manchester City are also in action away to Real Madrid.

Madrid also hosts Atletico’s game with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, while Paris Saint-Germain’s Parc des Princes stadium is the venue for the visit of Barcelona on the same evening in Paris.

A media outlet linked to ISIS has issued a threat concerning all four of this week’s ties, and European football’s governing body UEFA has now issued a statement on the matter.

“UEFA is aware of alleged terrorist threats made towards this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues,” the statement said.

“All matches are planned to go ahead as scheduled with appropriate security arrangements in place.”

The Metropolitan Police say they are aware of reports of Champions League matches being targeted this week, but insist the terror threat level has not changed from its “substantial” level due to the reports, nor has the policing plan for Arsenal’s game.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, overseeing the policing of London on Tuesday, said: “The UK terrorism threat level remains at ‘substantial’ meaning an attack is likely, and we work closely with colleagues from across Counter Terrorism Policing in planning for events here in London, to take into account any relevant information that could help us to keep those attending safe.

“We’re aware of online and media reports in relation to calls to target matches across Europe and here in London.

“However, I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully.

“As ever, we ask the public to remain vigilant, and if they see any that doesn’t look or feel right, then report it to police or security staff.”

Arsenal say the security strategy for Tuesday night’s game remains as expected.

A club spokesperson said: “We work closely with the Metropolitan Police regarding the safety and security of all supporters and staff at Emirates Stadium for all our matches.

“Our planning for tonight’s fixture is no different and our approach, working together with the Police and UEFA, is proportionate to the current UK threat level.”

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has said that security will be “considerably reinforced” in Paris after the threat.

“We have seen, among others, a communication from the Islamic State which is particularly aimed at stadiums,” Darmanin said.

Meanwhile, in Spain, a government minister said they had taken all necessary precautions to avoid any terror attacks.

Sky Sports News has also contacted the Home Office for comment.