PAU BARRENA / AFP
PAU BARRENA / AFP
PAU BARRENA / AFP
Josep Lago / AFP
Sergi Roberto scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barcelona capped a sensational Champions League fightback to thrash Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“I threw myself at it with everything,” Roberto told BeIN Sports Spain as his outstretched leg turned home Neymar’s cross.
Despite Luis Suarez’s early opener, a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and Lionel Messi’s penalty, Barca, who lost the first leg 4-0, looked down and out when Edison Cavani volleyed home what seemed to be the vital away goal for PSG.
However, Neymar restored Barca’s belief as he firstly fired home a sensational free-kick two minutes from time and then converted from the penalty spot.
And Roberto capped the biggest comeback in Champions League history when he stretched to turn home Neymar’s dinked cross to the delight of a near 100,000 at a rocking Camp Nou, making the score 6-5 on aggregate.
“It is a difficult night to explain with words,” said outgoing Barca boss Luis Enrique.
“It was a horror movie, not a drama, with a Camp Nou that I have seen very few times as a player or coach. “What defines this victory is the faith that the players and fans had.”
PSG coach Unai Emery accepted his side lost their composure in the closing stages as he suffered a 12th defeat in as many visits to the Camp Nou. “The truth is we have let a huge opportunity get away and we are aware of that,” said Emery.
“In the last two minutes we lost everything we had recovered in the second-half. Barcelona are capable of this in their stadium. In the last few minutes they played all or nothing and they have beaten us.”
Barca also enter the record books by reaching the quarter-finals for a 10th straight season.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was blunt in his summary. “It’s a nightmare for everyone. Three goals in seven minutes is very difficult. Everybody is upset but now is not the time to talk about it.”
Enrique warned the French champions on Tuesday that his side were capable of scoring six and they needed the full 95 minutes to pull of a miracle revival.
No side had ever come back from a 4-0 first leg deficit in the Champions League, but after much pre-match hype of a historic turnaround, Barca truly believed when Suarez opened the scoring after just three minutes.
The PSG defence was stationary as Marquinhos headed Rafinha’s cross high into the air and Suarez nipped in ahead of the flapping goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to nod in despite Thomas Meunier’s best efforts to clear off the line.
– Shambolic defending –
Barca’s hopes were further raised five minutes before the break thanks to more shambolic PSG defending.
Andres Iniesta reached Suarez’s hopeful through ball and his backheel provoked Kurzawa into shanking the ball into his own net on his weaker right foot.
The second period started just as the first ended as Barca edged closer to the history books when Neymar was clipped by the prone Meunier and, after consultation with one of his assistants, German referee Deniz Aytekin pointed to the spot.
Messi made no mistake with the penalty to rifle home his 11th Champions League goal of the season.
Only when 3-0 down did PSG begin to come out in search of the crucial away goal and were rewarded just after the hour mark when Kurzawa made amends for his earlier error by heading down a free-kick and Cavani connected sweetly on the volley to register his 38th and seemingly most important goal of the season.
PSG were then to rue to huge missed chances by Cavani and Angel di Maria to put the tie completely beyond Barca. Just when Barca looked down and out Neymar restored hope when he curled home a sensational free-kick high into the top corner.
And as the match entered stoppage time, Barca were awarded a second controversial penalty when Suarez tumbled under a challenge form Marquinhos. Neymar this time took responsibility to send Trapp the wrong way.
“This is the best game I have ever played. For what it meant, for what we experienced and because I am in great form,” Neymar told BeIN Sports. “I know that we have made history. A team like this can do anything.”
And the Brazilian also showed a cool head amongst a mad final minute when he cut inside before chipping into the box for substitute Roberto to extend his right leg just enough to beat Trapp and leave PSG floored.