Bellingham stuns Barca with last-gasp Clasico winner

Jude Bellingham struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Real Madrid inched closer to a record-extending 36th LaLiga crown with a stunning 3-2 comeback victory over title rivals Barcelona in El Clasico.

Real twice fought back from a goal down before Bellingham smashed in the winner at the far post to beat the champions for a fourth successive time.

The result sees Madrid establish a potentially crucial 11-point lead over over Barca at the top of LaLiga with just six games remaining.

Barcelona's team players celebrate after Andreas Christensen, centre, scored the opening goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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Andreas Christensen gave Barcelona the lead the Bernabeu

Barca took the lead in the sixth minute when Andreas Christensen headed in following a corner after Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin failed to clear the cross from his six-yard-box.

Vinicius Jr equalised 12 minutes later from the penalty spot after Lucas Vazquez was fouled inside the box.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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Vinicius Junior equalised from the penalty spot

Wasteful Real dominated the second half but missed several chances and allowed substitute Fermin Lopez to give the visitors the lead again in the 69th minute from a rebound.

But Real would hit back for the second time as Vazquez lashed in a volley four minutes later.

Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez, second left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Lucas Vazquez hauled Madrid level for a second time

Real kept pushing for another goal and their perseverance paid off in added time when Vazquez raced down the right channel and crossed to Bellingham, who fired in the winner to spark jubilant scenes at the Bernabeu.

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Barcelona to request El Clasico replay if Yamal ‘goal’ error confirmed

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has called on the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to replay Sunday’s El Clasico encounter with Real Madrid if there is conclusive evidence that Lamine Yamal’s ‘phantom’ goal ought to have stood.

After Yamal’s strike was disallowed by VAR in Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat at Real Madrid, head coach Xavi Hernandez criticised the officiating in LaLiga, which does not use goal-line technology.

Yamal’s effort in the 28th minute was reviewed by VAR for several minutes, as it appeared to cross the line before Real keeper Andrey Lunin cleared it. The goal was disallowed and VAR awarded a corner to Barca.

Laporta’s statement on Monday opened: “As president of FC Barcelona, I would like to put across my dissatisfaction the day after the improper use of a tool such as VAR in one of the most important matches in the global schedule is marking our calendar.

Lamine Yamal was at the centre of a goal-line controversy
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Lamine Yamal was at the centre of a goal-line controversy

“As you well know, I have never been a great defender of VAR because I believe that, as it is applied, it takes away football’s spontaneity. But what I am in favour of is that, now that we have it, we always use to avoid errors that can lead to unfair decisions.”

Vinicius Jr and Lucas Vazquez’s goals helped Real equalise twice after Andreas Christensen and Fermin Lopez had put Barca ahead.

Barcelona's team players celebrate after Andreas Christensen, centre, scored the opening goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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Andreas Christensen gave Barcelona the lead the Bernabeu

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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Vinicius Junior equalised from the penalty spot

Jude Bellingham scored the decider in the 91st minute, securing Real’s fourth consecutive win over the Catalan side. Second-placed Barca trail by 11 points, a deficit that will be difficult to overturn with six games remaining.

Laporta continued: “In this appearance I am making, I am not only bringing together the unhappiness of Barca fans with the management of VAR yesterday [Sunday], but also, I am highlighting the fact that even though it is a tool that has been used for a while, it continues to create confusions with contradictory criteria according to matches and teams.

Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez, second left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Lucas Vazquez hauled Madrid level for a second time

“Barcelona would also like to highlight the power of our competition and that we are successful and followed by millions of fans around the world, but we cannot be exempt from criticism when the use of VAR undermines our product.

Laporta’s lengthy statement added: “We understand the difficulty faced by officials, but it is for that reason that such tools exist (like VAR) which should help the competition be fairer and not the other way around. Yesterday, there were several debatable incidents but amongst all of them there is one that is crucial and can change the result of the game.

“I am referring to the ‘phantom goal’ by Lamine. As a club we want to be sure about what happened, and it is for that reason that from FCB we will make an immediate request to the Technical Refereeing Committee at the Spanish Football Federation for a comprehensive collection of footage and audio from the incident.

Real Madrid's goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, left, makes a save in front Barcelona's Ferran Torres during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Andrey Lunin, left, makes a save in front Ferran Torres

“If once this documentation has been analysed, the club understands that an error was made in the revision of the incident, we will take all available measure to reverse the situation, without discounting, obviously, any necessary legal action.

“If it is confirmed that it was a legal goal, we will move ahead and we do not discount requesting that the game be replayed, just as has happened in another game in Europe due to a VAR error. Finally, I would like to underline that despite our focus on this incident, we also disagree with various others that occurred during the game, and that could have been reviewed using VAR.”

The game Laporta refers to took place in January, when it was announced that a Belgian Pro League match between Anderlecht and Genk would be replayed in full due to a video assistant referee (VAR) error.

The country’s disciplinary council for professional football ruled in favour of a Genk appeal on the grounds of a misapplication of the laws of the game.

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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Jude Bellingham celebrates his stoppage-time winner

Laporta hopes that decision, believed to be the first of its kind in European football, has set a precedent after an initial ruling by the refereeing body that there would be no replay was challenged on appeal by Genk, whose request for another game was upheld by the senior group.

LaLiga is the only top five league in Europe not to use goal-line technology. After Barcelona fans criticised LaLiga for lacking the tech, chief Javier Tebas responded on X by sharing several reports of past incidents where the technology was shown to be inaccurate saying, “no comment”.

Barcelona, who were knocked out of the Champions League last week, host Valencia in LaLiga on April 29.

Xavi told reporters, when asked about the controversial events at the Santiago Bernabeu: “We can’t control them. These are refereeing actions. I think the team is doing very well, we competed very well, we were better than Real on their own pitch and I think we deserved the three points in every way.

“My feeling today is one of maximum injustice. Goes without saying, everyone saw it,” he added. “My feeling is that today’s match was not fair.”

Haaland falls short when it matters again, Arsenal’s inexperience shows

Haaland falls short against Madrid again

Erling Haaland was unable to inspire Manchester City
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Erling Haaland was unable to inspire Manchester City

The night had started well for Erling Haaland. The Norwegian was the recipient of the Champions League golden boot having scored 12 times en route to lifting the trophy last season. It was a peculiar time to be collecting the award, coming before being well-marshalled by both Nacho and Antonio Rudiger.

Despite mustering just 21 touches, the expectation was that he would emerge for extra time. There had been one moment during the first half when he accelerated away from Nacho to remind onlookers that he is a lot more than just a finisher to bring in Jack Grealish.

Erling Haaland's Champions League goals by round
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Erling Haaland’s Champions League goals by round

Haaland would have five attempts of his own, amassing an xG of 0.68 – higher than any team-mate. He would hit the crossbar and send another header over. And yet, the Etihad was stunned to see his number go up as Julian Alvarez was introduced.

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The Football Show panel look at Erling Haaland’s recent lean spell in front of goal and debate his importance to Pep Guardiola’s team. 

Earlier in the contest, Pep Guardiola had replaced Grealish with Jeremy Doku in a move which paid off handsomely. But replacing Haaland? Even with the possibility of penalties half an hour away, it seemed an odd decision.

And so it emerged, with Guardiola confirming that the striker had asked to be replaced. Haaland’s final act came with the last touch of normal time as he couldn’t direct another header on target. Thereafter, City ran out of ideas with the low road proving easier for the Madrid defence to navigate.

Erling Haaland's record vs Real Madrid
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Erling Haaland’s record vs Real Madrid

“You always do everything to try and avoid going to penalties, that’s what they wanted, but it’s difficult to take,” Ruben Dias said afterwards. City’s designated taker watched on powerless from the sidelines.

Having failed to score at the Santiago Bernabeu – and across the Champions League semi-final against Real last season – those lingering doubts over Haaland’s influence on the biggest stage will grow.
Ben Grounds

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Ben Ransom and Adam Bate assess where Manchester City went wrong after crashing out of the Champions League on penalties to Real Madrid.

Madrid somehow find a way to win

Jude Bellingham celebrates Real Madrid's penalty shootout victory over Manchester City
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Jude Bellingham celebrates Madrid’s penalty shootout win

Manchester City had 67 per cent of the ball and 33 shots but still it did not prove to be enough to eliminate Real Madrid, the team Pep Guardiola calls the kings of Europe. Somehow, Carlo Ancelotti’s team found a way to progress – on penalties.

“I don’t judge the ideas of Carlo and how they decided to play,” said Pep Guardiola afterwards. It was certainly unusual to see the 14-time champions of Europe protecting their penalty box for two hours but what was striking was how good they were at it.

Real Madrid average 59.4 per cent of the possession in La Liga but this was not the day job. Facing City demanded a different approach. “They defended deeper than previous seasons,” said Guardiola. Their concentration was remarkable, every movement was tracked.

Andriy Lunin saves Bernardo Silva's disastrous penalty
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Andriy Lunin saves Bernardo Silva’s disastrous penalty

Dani Carvajal was run ragged by Grealish and then Doku but he was still hugely impressive. Nacho came in for the suspended Aurelien Tchouameni and was superb. Antonio Rudiger erred for the equaliser but was otherwise magnificent and had the final say.

When it went to penalties, the reaction to Luka Modric seeing the first Madrid kick saved was noticeable – the rest of the group rallying him. It was as if nothing, from City’s dominance to falling behind in the shoot-out, would shake their belief.

Ultimately, they had their reward. It was not a swaggering display fit for a king, but the resolve had to be admired. “To win against Real Madrid, we have to be at our best,” said Guardiola. “We were at our best but it was not quite enough.” Madrid found a way.
Adam Bate

Just the start for Arsenal in the Champions League

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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal tried their best but need to learn after defeat at Bayern Munich sent them out of the Champions League.

Another chance of silverware slipped from Arsenal’s grasp in Munich.

It was another disappointing night for the Gunners following their defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday, which handed Man City the initiative in the Premier League title race.

However, while Sunday’s result left the Emirates Stadium flat and deflated as hopes of winning a first Premier League title since 2003/04 suffer a setback, defeat in Europe can be a crucial part of the building and learning process for Mikel Arteta’s young side as they look to become a real force in the Champions League.

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Sky Sports’ Paul Gilmour reacts to Arsenal’s 1-0 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.

“We have to go through the pain,” Arteta said after the 1-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena, which saw the Gunners crash out of the tournament 3-2 on aggregate. “The club has been without Champions League football for seven years and you want to play in the first year and be in the semi-finals or the final. We all wanted that so badly, but you can see in many other clubs it takes them sometimes six or seven years to get to that stage. But we were very close, that’s the reality.”

Manchester City didn’t make it out of the group stage in their two appearances in the Champions League. They reached one semi-final in their first eight goes at it. They reached the final in their 10th crack at it and only lifted the trophy at the 13th attempt.

The point is it takes time and there’s no shame in a quarter-final exit at the hands of Bayern Munich, who reached a 14th semi-final in the competition.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, which ended their chances of playing in next season's Club World Cup
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Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, which ended their chances of playing in next season’s Club World Cup

Arsenal’s lack of experience showed in this tie as they handed the initiative to Bayern at a crucial time in the first leg when they were dominant. They switched off for a split second in the second and they were punished. Arteta said it himself: “There was zero margin.”

But just as sides have gone through it before them in Europe’s premier club competition, this young Arsenal side will learn from this. Arteta will learn from this, and the challenge is to keep building, keep improving and going on the trajectory they have been, and come back stronger for another crack next season.
Oliver Yew

Dier – not Kane – helps Bayern see off Arsenal

Eric Dier was key in stopping Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, rather than Harry Kane
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Eric Dier was key in stopping Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, rather than Harry Kane

Much – if not all – of the pre-match build-up to the Bayern vs Arsenal tie focused on Harry Kane. Tottenham’s former captain, top scorer and icon taking on the old foe for his new club where a league title has slipped from their grasp to the hilarity of some.

He fulfilled the prophecy at the Emirates – even suggesting Spurs fans will want Arsenal to win for the sake of the Champions League coefficient – but was anonymous in the second leg on Wednesday.

In fact, it was another former Tottenham player in Eric Dier who had the biggest say in Arsenal’s exit.

It was a congested, tight battle in the midfield, and Dier was effective there as well as in his defensive role. He was top in Bayern’s team for tackles (4), interceptions (3) and total passes (76, with 93.4 per cent accuracy).

Dier also came under the spotlight pre-match for his comments on Ange Postecoglu, but showed confidence and big-game maturity for Bayern Munich.

Along with Kane, the pair now face the challenge of Real Madrid in the semi-finals. More of the same from Dier and consistency from Kane could help Bayern another Champions League final at Wembley.
Charlotte Marsh

Dembele relishes role as scourge of Barcelona

Ousmane Dembele sparked PSG's impressive comeback
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Ousmane Dembele sparked PSG’s impressive comeback

Barcelona ran out at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys armed with a 3-2 triumph from their first meeting in Paris and when Raphinha capitalised on Lamine Yamal’s skilful approach work to fire in the opener, they had sight of the last four.

But that all changed in the 29th minute when defender Ronald Araujo was sent off for tripping winger Bradley Barcola on the edge of the area, VAR confirming the on-field decision for a red card.

PSG didn’t look back. The pressure built on the home goal and Barcelona self-imploded. Joao Cancelo, culpable for Ousmane Dembele’s goal before the break, then brought down the same player inside the box as Kylian Mbappe completed an impressive turnaround.

Xavi had hoped his Barcelona farewell would end with silverware at Wembley following a 13-game unbeaten run since he confirmed his summer departure back in January. But here he was dismissed for kicking pitchside water bottles as hopes of a fairytale ending went down the drain.

For Dembele, jeered throughout by the home supporters, this was the sort of performance which made him Barcelona’s second-most expensive signing when he joined for £135m in 2017.

When the 26-year-old moved to PSG last summer, he was earmarked as Mbappe’s replacement, but he is only just starting to replicate the attacking output required to be mentioned in the same breath as the player who, with 48 goals, has equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the 10th-highest scorer in Champions League history.

For now, PSG are more than happy to have them both in search of their Holy Grail.
Ben Grounds

Xavi blows lid but Barcelona have themselves to blame

Xavi struggled to contain his emotions at full time
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Xavi struggled to contain his emotions at full time

Xavi Hernandez berated the referee and said his performance cost Barcelona a chance to fight for a place in the Champions League semi-finals – but there was little in the way of injustice to the Catalans’ elimination.

Barcelona were in control when they were reduced to 10 just before the half-hour after last man Araujo was shown a red card for a foul on Bradley Barcola.

Xavi complained bitterly to referee Istvan Kovacs. “I told him his performance was a disaster.” A frank admission, but Barcelona were incapable of managing the game.

Joao Cancelo, who was deemed surplus to requirements by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, demonstrated why he is better at going forward than defending in two moments which cost Barcelona the tie.

First, he fell asleep at the far post to allow Dembele to reduce the deficit before he then fouled the same player in the 61st minute with a sliding tackle to concede a penalty that Kylian Mbappe fired into the top corner to move the visitors in front in the tie.

Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League sent Atletico Madrid to the inaugural 32-team Club World Cup in the United States next year as Spain’s second representative. All-in-all, a bleak night for the Blaugrana.
Ben Grounds

Sabitzer reminds Man Utd of what might of been

Marcel Sabitzer
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Marcel Sabitzer celebrates his winner against Atlei

Marcel Sabitzer showed glimpses of his obvious talent during last season’s six-month loan stay at Man Utd, albeit not enough to convince manager Erik ten Hag to turn his short-term stay at Old Trafford into a permanent move last summer.

However, given the Austria international’s impressive display to help his side edge through to the Champions League semi-finals after a 5-4 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid, maybe United and Ten Hag erred in that decision.

The 30-year-old joined Borussia Dortmund instead in July and has so far contributed six goals and eight assists in 34 games in total, including two assists and a goal to help see off Atleti in a rousing quarter-final on Tuesday.

And just when his side needed him, Sabitzer first produced a wonderful cross from the left flank which Niclas Fullkrug headed home, before scoring the winner minutes later with a characteristic long-range strike.
Richard Morgan

Defence proves Atleti’s Achilles heel for once

When Angel Correa thumped Atleico 4-3 ahead on aggregate with just 25 minutes left to play at the Westfalenstadion, this pulsating last-eight tie appeared to have taken its final twist.

However, there was always this nagging feeling that this Atleti side did not have the usual DNA of most Diego Simeone teams in that they had appeared defensively weak throughout the two ties.

And as it proved as back roared Dortmund to score twice themselves in quick time and the post-match stats said it all as the visitors conceded four or more goals in a Champions League knockout stage game for just the second time, while they also gave up five shots on target in the first half of a Champions League knockout stage match for the first time since May 2017.

Ultimately, that was to prove decisive as Simeone’s men just could not hold on for another semi-final appearance.
Richard Morgan

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Xavi fumes at ‘disaster’ ref after PSG beat 10-player Barca in CL epic

Luis Enrique returned to Barcelona to knock his former club out of the Champions League as Kylian Mbappe inspired Paris Saint-Germain to a pulsating 4-1 second-leg victory, winning 6-4 on aggregate.

They fought back from 3-2 down in the first leg and 1-0 down on Tuesday night to progress to the final four, where they will face Borussia Dortmund for a place in Wembley’s final.

Barcelona extended their lead on the night when Raphinha converted Lamine Yamal’s cross (12). But the game turned on referee Istvan Kovacs’ decision to send off Ronald Araujo for a professional foul (29) on Bradley Barcola.

PSG were ruthless in making their numerical advantage count as they hauled themselves back into the tie through Ousmane Dembele before half-time (40).

Referee Istvan Kovacs, left, shows a red card to Ronald Araujo
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Referee Istvan Kovacs, left, shows a red card to Ronald Araujo

Enrique’s side didn’t take their foot off the gas upon the restart as Vintinha levelled the contest with a fine strike (54) before a rash challenge from Joao Cancelo in the box allowed Mbappe to put the French club ahead on aggregate (61).

With Barcelona committing players forward in the closing stages, Mbappe stretched PSG’s lead after pouncing on a poor clearance from Jules Kounde after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had saved his initial effort to cap a breathless night at the Estadio Olimpico de Montjuic.

Barcelona's Joao Cancelo conceded the crucial penalty
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Barcelona’s Joao Cancelo conceded the crucial penalty

Xavi complained bitterly to referee Kovacs and ended up being shown a red card himself, which did not stop him going back to the pitch at the final whistle to voice his frustration again at the Romanian official.

“The referee was really bad. I told him his performance was a disaster. I don’t like to talk about referees, but it had a clear impact in the season and it has to be said,” Xavi told Movistar Plus.

“We are very upset and angry because the red card was the decisive factor in the match. With 11 (players) we were in a good position, playing well and in command.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice in a Champions League classic
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Kylian Mbappe scored twice in a Champions League classic

“It’s too much to flash a red card in a game like this. There was another game after that… It is a pity that the work of the season was ruined by an unnecessary expulsion.”

PSG will now play Dortmund in the semi-finals, having already met them in the group phase of this season’s competition. The German team also performed a turnaround in their tie with Atletico Madrid, responding to last week’s 2-1 defeat in Spain with a 4-2 win in their second leg, resulting in a 5-4 aggregate triumph.

How PSG made extra man count…

PSG's Vitinha celebrates with PSG's Achraf Hakimi
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PSG’s Vitinha celebrates with PSG’s Achraf Hakimi

Barcelona got off to the perfect start when Raphinha got in front of Achraf Hakimi to meet Yamal’s inviting cross. In providing the assist aged 16 years and 278 days, Yamal became the youngest player to register a goal involvement in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But when Araujo brought down Barcola outside the box as he ran onto Nuno Mendes’ pass, the hosts were reduced to 10 men and had over an hour to limit PSG to a single goal.

That came when Dembele arrived at the far post to meet Barcola’s low cross in front of Joao Cancelo, temporarily silencing the crowd that jeered the former Barcelona player throughout.

Barcelona's Raphinha celebrates his early opener
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Barcelona’s Raphinha celebrates his early opener

Dembele again impressed for PSG against his old club
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Dembele again impressed for PSG against his old club

Vitinha drilled the French champions into the lead on the night and Barcelona’s frustration extended to their manager Xavi, who was sent off for kicking some water bottles.

The Spanish club’s misery was complete when Mbappe was on target from the penalty spot after Cancelo had brought down Dembele inside the box.

As Barca tried to find a goal to take the game to extra-time, Mbappe made the most of a counter attack to score from close-range and wrap up a semi-final place against Borussia Dortmund.

GRAPHIC

Player of the match – Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele hauls PSG level on the night
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Ousmane Dembele hauls PSG level on the night

Dembele scored in consecutive UEFA Champions League games for the first time since October 2020 (with Barcelona), with the Frenchman the first player to score away against Barca after previously playing for them in the competition since Zlatan Ibrahimovic, also for Paris, in December 2014.

Dembele told Canal+: “Everyone believed (we could qualify), even if we lost the first leg 3-2. We didn’t give up, we knew we were going to score goals here. A big shift from the whole team.

“We worked the entire week, tactically, with the coach. His tactics were perfect. Even though we conceded the first goal, we didn’t let our heads drop. We continued to believe.”

Analysis: Araujo red card very harsh

Araujo, left, and PSG's Fabian Ruiz argue after the red card
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Araujo, left, and PSG’s Fabian Ruiz argue after the red card

Analysis by Sky Sports’ Tim Sherwood:

“It was a huge decision from the referee to send off Araujo. When Raphinha puts them further ahead, you think Barcelona are in control. They were starting to pass the ball and keep it away from PSG.

“All of a sudden, Araujo got the wrong side of Barcola and he brings him down. He puts his arm on his shoulder but I thought it was a very harsh red card.

“VAR looked at it but it was never going to get overturned. He decided it was a red and the game just changed. Dembele haunted his old club and then Mbappe stepped up. It was a disastrous challenge from Cancelo on Dembele for the penalty.

“I think it’s going to be an uphill task for Dortmund. It is a 50-50 game but the winners of this competition comes from the other side of the draw.”

Xavi: Sending off cost us the game

Araujo protests his innocence but is sent off
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Araujo protests his innocence but is sent off

Barcelona boss Xavi: “When it was 11 against 11, we were well organized. The match changed completely. We had a chance to make it 2-2 when Gundo (Ilkay Gundogan) hit the post and Robert (Lewandowski) had a chance to make it 2-0 when he shot over.

“Big chances but when you are chasing a match with 10 men, it’s always much harder. I’d have loved to see what would have happened if it stayed 11 against 11. I think we’ve dignified ourselves in this Champions League campaign and Barcelona will be back to try and be even better next time.

“We weren’t sure about what changes to make when Ronald was sent off. Pedri was coming back from a muscle injury but we wanted the type of control of possession and good use of the ball he brings and we wanted the running power of Raphinha.

“We chose to replace Lamine, sadly so that Inigo could come on. Those are the kind of consequences which follow being reduced to 10 men, I’m afraid.”

Enrique: Our pressing was key to victory

PSG's Vitinha celebrates after levelling the tie
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PSG’s Vitinha celebrates after levelling the tie

Paris Saint-Germain boss Luis Enrique: “This has been super difficult playing against Barcelona. In sentimental, emotional terms for me. And in football terms I’d like not to have to play them too many more times. I’m super contented to have gone through though.

“The best feeling when you are a player or a coach is seeing that your work makes people happy. There’s nothing better than that. You can’t buy that feeling. The feeling of getting something special for the club is great. Now we need to cope with the final and try to get ourselves to the final.”

On his team: “He (Mbappe) was a leader from start to finish, and when a team senses that a player as important as him is ready to bring everyone with him, you make the most of it. I’d like to speak about Vitinha, too: he battles, he has the quality in his final ball. Dembele was superb as well, even if it was difficult for him to play here too.”

Mbappe proves the difference again – Opta stats

  • Only Cristiano Ronaldo (23 goals in 39 games) has netted more away from home in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League than Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappé (15 in 12 games) with the Frenchman netting more in the competition against Barcelona than against any other side (6).
  • Paris Saint-Germain boss Luis Enrique is the first ex-Barcelona manager to eliminate the Spanish side from a UEFA Champions League knockout stage tie and only the third Spaniard to do so after Rafael Benítez with Liverpool in 2006-07 (round of 16) and Vicente del Bosque with Real Madrid in 2001-02 (semi-finals).
  • The only two instances of Barcelona conceding 4 or more goals in a home UEFA Champions League/European Cup knockout game have come at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, who also beat the Spaniards 4-1 at Camp Nou in February 2021 in the Last 16.
  • In their 16th UEFA Champions League campaign, Paris Saint-Germain have reached the semi-finals of the competition for only the fourth time, also doing so in 1994-95, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

What’s next?

Barcelona visit LaLiga leaders Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday April 21. Kick-off 8pm. Barca can close the gap on Real to five points with a win.

PSG return to Ligue 1 action, which they lead by 10 points, at home to Lyon on Sunday. Kick-off 8pm.

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Hits and misses: Dembele relishes role as scourge of Barcelona

Dembele relishes role as scourge of Barcelona

Ousmane Dembele sparked PSG's impressive comeback
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Ousmane Dembele sparked PSG’s impressive comeback

Barcelona ran out at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys armed with a 3-2 triumph from their first meeting in Paris and when Raphinha capitalised on Lamine Yamal’s skilful approach work to fire in the opener, they had sight of the last four.

But that all changed in the 29th minute when defender Ronald Araujo was sent off for tripping winger Bradley Barcola on the edge of the area, VAR confirming the on-field decision for a red card.

PSG didn’t look back. The pressure built on the home goal and Barcelona self-imploded. Joao Cancelo, culpable for Ousmane Dembele’s goal before the break, then brought down the same player inside the box as Kylian Mbappe completed an impressive turnaround.

Xavi had hoped his Barcelona farewell would end with silverware at Wembley following a 13-game unbeaten run since he confirmed his summer departure back in January. But here he was dismissed for kicking pitchside water bottles as hopes of a fairytale ending went down the drain.

For Dembele, jeered throughout by the home supporters, this was the sort of performance which made him Barcelona’s second-most expensive signing when he joined for £135m in 2017.

When the 26-year-old moved to PSG last summer, he was earmarked as Mbappe’s replacement, but he is only just starting to replicate the attacking output required to be mentioned in the same breath as the player who, with 48 goals, has equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the 10th-highest scorer in Champions League history.

For now, PSG are more than happy to have them both in search of their Holy Grail.
Ben Grounds

Xavi blows lid but Barcelona have themselves to blame

Xavi struggled to contain his emotions at full time
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Xavi struggled to contain his emotions at full time

Xavi Hernandez berated the referee and said his performance cost Barcelona a chance to fight for a place in the Champions League semi-finals – but there was little in the way of injustice to the Catalans’ elimination.

Barcelona were in control when they were reduced to 10 just before the half-hour after last man Araujo was shown a red card for a foul on Bradley Barcola.

Xavi complained bitterly to referee Istvan Kovacs. “I told him his performance was a disaster.” A frank admission, but Barcelona were incapable of managing the game.

Joao Cancelo, who was deemed surplus to requirements by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, demonstrated why he is better at going forward than defending in two moments which cost Barcelona the tie.

First, he fell asleep at the far post to allow Dembele to reduce the deficit before he then fouled the same player in the 61st minute with a sliding tackle to concede a penalty that Kylian Mbappe fired into the top corner to move the visitors in front in the tie.

Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League sent Atletico Madrid to the inaugural 32-team Club World Cup in the United States next year as Spain’s second representative. All-in-all, a bleak night for the Blaugrana.
Ben Grounds

Sabitzer reminds Man Utd of what might of been

Marcel Sabitzer
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Marcel Sabitzer celebrates his winner against Atlei

Marcel Sabitzer showed glimpses of his obvious talent during last season’s six-month loan stay at Man Utd, albeit not enough to convince manager Erik ten Hag to turn his short-term stay at Old Trafford into a permanent move last summer.

However, given the Austria international’s impressive display to help his side edge through to the Champions League semi-finals after a 5-4 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid, maybe United and Ten Hag erred in that decision.

The 30-year-old joined Borussia Dortmund instead in July and has so far contributed six goals and eight assists in 34 games in total, including two assists and a goal to help see off Atleti in a rousing quarter-final on Tuesday.

And just when his side needed him, Sabitzer first produced a wonderful cross from the left flank which Niclas Fullkrug headed home, before scoring the winner minutes later with a characteristic long-range strike.
Richard Morgan

Defence proves Atleti’s Achilles heel for once

When Angel Correa thumped Atleico 4-3 ahead on aggregate with just 25 minutes left to play at the Westfalenstadion, this pulsating last-eight tie appeared to have taken its final twist.

However, there was always this nagging feeling that this Atleti side did not have the usual DNA of most Diego Simeone teams in that they had appeared defensively weak throughout the two ties.

And as it proved as back roared Dortmund to score twice themselves in quick time and the post-match stats said it all as the visitors conceded four or more goals in a Champions League knockout stage game for just the second time, while they also gave up five shots on target in the first half of a Champions League knockout stage match for the first time since May 2017.

Ultimately, that was to prove decisive as Simeone’s men just could not hold on for another semi-final appearance.
Richard Morgan

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