Paris Saint-Germain’s dream of joining Europe’s elite with a Champions League trophy will have to wait another season, as Real Madrid delivered a brutal reality check by cruising through to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s powerful header — his 12th goal of the competition — and a deflected effort from midfielder Casemiro either side of a close-range finish from PSG’s Edinson Cavani sent Madrid through 5-2 on aggregate.
Peaking at the right time, Madrid can be confident of challenging for a third straight title and 13th overall.
PSG still has not reached the semifinals since its lone appearance in 1995. PSG’s ambitious club motto of “Dream Bigger” should perhaps now be revised. On this evidence, and last season’s humiliation at the hands of Barcelona, PSG remains a club more hopeful than convincing. Despite huge investment from cash-rich Qatari owners QSI since 2011, PSG has not been past the quarterfinals in that time.
“We needed our heads and our hearts today. But we didn’t have both; we didn’t play as well as Real Madrid,” dejected PSG coach Unai Emery said.
“Madrid deserved to go through. I think they controlled 60 percent of the game, and we didn’t do enough with the 40 percent we had. Losing to Real Madrid itself isn’t a disappointment, but being knocked out in the last 16 is.”
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, PSG’s fragile defense crumbled and its attack offered little threat without the injured Neymar. The biggest bang from this PSG side was from the fireworks constantly let off by a section of fans behind one goal.
Cavani’s goal gave PSG some hope with 20 minutes left. But with midfielder Marco Verratti already sent off, scoring two more to force extra time was beyond a lackluster PSG side.
Instead, midfielder Casemiro’s deflected shot looped past stranded goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 80th. He was gifted the ball after midfielder Adrien Rabiot dealt poorly with Lucas Vazquez’s cross.
To compound a miserable night for PSG fans, who so badly want to believe this side can conquer Europe, Verratti showed terrible composure in getting sent off midway through the second half. He got a second yellow card, having protested vehemently with referee Felix Brych after not getting a free kick.
“Our fans got behind us, I apologize to them,” Rabiot said. “We tried, but we couldn’t do it.”
Ronaldo had already done his usual damage.
The Champions League’s all-time leading scorer was given far too much space and leapt triumphantly to beat Areola with a downward header in the 51st minute. He had netted twice in the first leg.
Ronaldo has scored in nine Champions League games in a row, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record.
In the night’s other match, five-time champion Liverpool eased into the last eight, drawing 0-0 at home to two-time winner Porto after winning the away leg 5-0.
“It’s time we showed up again,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said after his team secured a place in the last eight for the first time in nine years.
At times, it felt like the English club was going through the motions, especially since it faces a huge Premier League game against Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Japan News.