UEFA Champions League: Christensen gives Barcelona slender lead over PSG

Brazil winger Raphinha gave them the lead, sweeping home a loose ball for his first Champions League goal after Gianluigi Donnarumma could only parry a low cross
Christensen gives Barcelona a slender lead over PSG
Raphina scored 2 goals./PHOTO COURTESY

Five-time winners Barcelona came from behind to earn a slender advantage over Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in France.

Xavi’s side were in danger of being overawed by a hostile Parisian crowd but the Barcelona boss used his bench to magnificent effect to turn the tie in their favour.

Brazil winger Raphinha gave them the lead, sweeping home a loose ball for his first Champions League goal after Gianluigi Donnarumma could only parry a low cross.

PSG responded immediately after the break though, with Ousmane Dembele firing into the roof of the net after a poor clearance and Vitinha finding the far corner after being fed in down the right.

Substitute Bradley Barcola then hit the bar for the hosts as they swarmed all over a Barcelona side playing at this stage of the competition for the first time since 2020.

Spain midfielder Pedri was introduced and his impact was immediate with a delightful ball over the PSG defence superbly volleyed home by Raphinha with the outside of his right foot.

Dembele clipped the outside of the post as both sides pressed, but it was Barcelona sub Andreas Christensen who found the winner, heading home a corner from four yards after being left unmarked in the centre of the goal.

The second leg takes place in Spain on Tuesday, 16 April.

New-look Barcelona find a way

In the build-up to the match, PSG boss Luis Enrique claimed he played the Barcelona way “better” than Xavi.

That may be the case, but Xavi has found a different way of playing and his side showed immense courage to turn the game around when under immense pressure.

This is a mixed side in terms of experience, with Ilkay Gundogan and Robert Lewandowski offering plenty – but in 17-year-old centre-back Pau Cubarsi and 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal, they had the two youngest players to start a Champions League quarter-final.

They soaked up early pressure but then showed a willingness to go longer and in behind the PSG defence, and that brought the rewards of the first goal.

PSG responded in superb fashion at the start of the second half and threatened to take a decisive advantage in the tie, but Xavi showed brilliant nous with his substitutions.

Pedri is returning from injury, so is having to be managed, but his ball for Raphinha was sublime, matched by the finish from the former Leeds man.

The visitors has been a threat from corners throughout, with Donnarumma looking unusually uncomfortable, and the Italian goalkeeper was rooted to his line for Christensen’s winner as PSG suffered just an eighth home defeat in 74 European ties.

The tie is far from over and Barcelona, who have only qualified from this stage once in their past five attempts, will have to progress without Christensen and captain Sergi Roberto, with both picking up bookings in Paris.


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