Barcelona battle back to edge PSG in five goal thriller

Quarter-final 1st leg

PSG 2-3 FC Barcelona

Raphinha stepped forward as the unlikely hero for Barcelona, as Xavi Hernandez savoured a memorable 3-2 win over PSG in their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Parc des Princes.

While much of the pre-match build-up focused on Kylian Mbappe ahead of his impeding move to Spain, the Frenchman had a quiet evening as the two sides played out a fascinating game in Paris.

The game started on a lively note when Robert Lewandowski thought he had headed Barca in front after a misguided claim from Gianluigi Donnarumma, but left-back Nuno Mendes did superbly to hack the ball clear off the line.

Raphinha celebrates after opening the scoring.

The visitors continued to press for an opener as PSG felt the heat, with Ilkay Gundogan and Lewandowski again going close with Donnarumma looking less than assured in the PSG goal.

And the opener came thanks to a piece of quality from the 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who proved with one pass why there is such a hype surrounding the teenager.

The Spanish youngster produced a stunning delivery with a trivela – using the outside of his left boot – to find Lewandowski in the penalty area. The striker ducked out of a 50-50 with Donnarumma, but there was Raphinha to mop up the rebound with a well-placed effort into the empty net to score his first Champions League goal.

It was no less than Barca deserved after taking the initiative to PSG, with Mbappe and the former Barca man Ousmane Dembele a long way off their best in the first half.

Vitinha puts the home side into the lead.

But after the break, fresh from Luis Enrique’s half-time team-talk, PSG looked fired up and found the equaliser just three minutes after the restart. Mbappe’s cutback deflected into the path of Dembele, who smartly faked a shot onto his left foot and hammered the ball into the roof of the net, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen a mere passenger due to the sheer power of the strike.

Buoyed by the vocal home support at the Parc des Princes, PSG turned the game on its head when Fabian Ruiz received the ball on the right and slid a disguised pass through to Vitinha, who managed to sneak his effort under Ter Stegen to make it 2-1 just three minutes later.

Not long after Ter Stegen denied substitute Bradley Barcola with a wonderful fingertip save, however Barca responded in perfect fashion through Raphinha, who after going 10 games without a goal in the competition grabbed his second of the night, volleying home from a world-class through ball from Pedri.

Christensen wheels away after heading Barca back into the ascendency.

With around half an hour remaining, the tie was there for the taking and Barcola nearly put his name on the back pages after bursting through on goal, only for Ronald Araujo to deny him with a last-ditch sliding challenge.

That proved to be crucial as the pendulum swung again. Another of Xavi’s substitutes, Andreas Christensen, met Gundogan’s delivery and headed beyond the Donnarumma, who looked bereft of confidence after staying rooted to his line.

The petty nature of the tie began to set in towards the end with Christensen, Pau Cubarsi, Fermin Lopez and Lucas Beraldo all receiving cautions late on, ruling the former out of the second leg. But Xavi won’t mind after watching his side bounce back late on thanks to his substitutions, putting his side in control ahead of the second leg.

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