NEWS
Wednesday April 10 2013
Barca in semis after PSG draw

Javier Pastore’s goal was cancelled out by Pedro to give Barcelona a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain and ensure they qualified on away goals.

With Lionel Messi not being fit enough to start, Tito Vilanova named Cesc Fabregas in the false nine role alongside David Villa and Pedro, whilst Adriano started at centre-back in the absence of Javier Mascherano.

For the French side meanwhile, former Blaugrana players Maxwell, Thiago Motta and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all had a starting berth, with David Beckham benched for Italian youngster Marco Verratti.

A bright start to the game saw both sides test the opposition goalkeeper early on. Xavi curled a free kick just past Salvatore Sirigu’s post inside two minutes, whilst Ezequiel Lavezzi hit a tame shot into the arms of Victor Valdes.

In usual Barca style though, the Catalan side quickly dominated possession and the tempo of the game. Andres Iniesta and Fabregas were inter-changing passes nicely around the edge of the Parisiens area, but without ever really testing the goalkeeper. Carlo Ancelotti’s side meanwhile were content to cede the ball in favour of a fast-paced counter-attacking game. And it almost paid dividends midway through the half, only for Lucas Moura to fire over from the edge of the area.

The Ligue 1 side weren’t content to just sit back and roll over though. They were really taking the game to the Camp Nou club and forcing Vilanova’s men into some uncharacteristic mistakes. Their high pressing was causing panic amongst the Barca ranks, and a number of times PSG created half-chances for themselves through persistence and closing down.

Valdes was called into action on more than one occasion late on – Lavezzi flicked a close-range effort into the body of the Spain international, whilst Lucas forced the want-away shot-stopper into a smart save from a drifted header.

After the break, the pattern remained the same, but this time, Valdes couldn’t come to the rescue. Ibrahimovic released Pastore 30 yards from goal, and the Argentine forward raced in before dinking an effort over the on-rushing keeper for the opening goal.

The away side were really on top at this point with their attacking quartet completely out-thinking, out-fighting and outclassing the Blaugrana defence. Lucas should have doubled the lead, as should Pastore – but the introduction of Messi on the hour changed the dynamic.

The record-breaking Argentine may have only been half-fit, but the mental impact it had on his teammates and his counterparts was evident from the off. Barca were having more and better chances, but still couldn’t beat Sirigu.

With 20 minutes remaining though, they finally did. A slaloming run from Messi released Villa, who passed it back to Pedro, for the Spain international to smash home from the edge of the area.

The visitors tried to get the goal they needed late on, but Vilanova’s men held on for the draw and progressed to another semi-final.

Barcelona 1-1 PSG

Scorers: Pedro 71 (B); Pastore 50 (PSG)

Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Adriano (Bartra 62), Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Fabregas (Messi 62), Villa (Song 84)

PSG: Sirigu; Jallet (Van der Wiel 88), Alex, T.Silva, Maxwell; Verratti (Beckham 83), T.Motta; Moura, Pastore; Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi (Gameiro 82)

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