PSG 2 Barcelona 2 match report: David Beckham holds hopes French side can deny Barca Champions League semi spot

The French side twice came from behind to remain firmly in the tie

The Parc des Princes

Twice, in a chaotic, raucous, flare-lit final 12 minutes, Paris Saint German equalised against Barcelona to keep themselves alive in the Champions League.

Whether 2-2 will be enough to take Paris all the way through to the semi-finals is unlikely. But the draw was exactly what they deserved after a performance of remarkable commitment, perseverance and discipline. Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore stood out, as did a mature and careful David Beckham and manager Carlo Ancelotti, who surprisingly and rewardingly started the 37-year-old before making the changes which turned the game.

"I think we deserved a draw tonight," said Beckham. "There's no reason why we can't go there and get a result. I was very happy, the manager [Carlo Ancelotti] has always shown confidence in me. Tonight was a big moment for the club – it doesn't get much better than these nights."

With 15 minutes left Paris, though, were in a position many sides have found themselves in over the years. They were 1-0 down to Lionel Messi's first-half strike and chasing the famous passing carousel. Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets looked content and capable to play out time with their taunting, teasing football, taking their lead back to the Nou Camp.

But, unlike countless carousel-passengers down the year, Paris managed to fight their way off. Second-half substitutes Jeremy Menez and Marco Verratti won consecutive free-kicks in attacking positions. Barcelona repelled the first one but the second was met by Thiago Silva, winning yet another ball on a moutainous night. His header struck the post but fell to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who stabbed the ball in. Parc des Princes erupted, and in all the noise it was ignored that Ibrahimovic was offside.

If Paris thought that their work and fight had been rightly rewarded with a draw, they were 15 minutes too early. Because Barcelona, who always seem to find a way, went back in front in the penultimate minute. Cesc Fabregas, who came on for Messi at half-time, played a perfect through pass for Alexis Sanchez. Salvatore Sirigu charged out, Sanchez bought the foul and Xavi scored the penalty.

And if it felt as if all of Paris' work was for nothing, that their near-perfect game would still leave them with an impossible task, the players felt differently. Because, with the final move of the match, they equalised again. A desperate punt into the box was nodded back by Ibrahimovic to Blaise Matuidi. On the edge of the box, Matuidi smacked it, Marc Bartra deflected it and it slipped beyond Victor Valdes.

Paris' late charge had been rewarded and their substitutes had delivered, but this draw was not just earned in the final 20 minutes. For the first 70 the hosts had been impressive in a different way, not always playing with as much quality as Barcelona, of course, but more than matching them in other ways.

Ancelotti had sprung a surprise with his decision to start Beckham, but it had worked. This morning's L'Equipe featured an article headlined "Too intense for Beckham", doubting whether he still had the legs to do the running required to smother Barcelona's midfield. But he did, at least for 70 minutes, when he was replaced by Marco Verratti.

"I played him there because of his ability to play forward passes and change the game," Ancelotti explained afterwards. "In the first 30 minutes he was the key as he was playing good football, with his passes."

Beckham and Matuidi anchored Paris' five-man harassment unit which created more early chances than Barcelona. Ibrahimovic's cross was deftly chested on by Javier Pastore to Ezequiel Lavezzi, who was sufficiently distracted by Busquets that the ball hit the far post. Pastore and Ibrahimovic forced Valdes into diving saves before Ibrahimovic dragged a shot just wide from another counter-attack.

But genius can trump competence and there was nothing they could do to stop Barcelona from taking the lead, seven minutes before the break. A Barcelona corner was cleared to Dani Alves, just inside the visitors' half. It takes a lot to surprise a whole stadium but Alves did that, curling a pass with the outside of his right foot over the defence onto the run of Messi.

Messi, to the surprise of almost no-one, let the ball bounce and go across his body before firing it left-footed into the bottom corner. Messi nearly added a second just before the break but he did not emerge half with a thigh injury which may rule him out of next week's return leg.

Paris knew they needed to change the pace in the second half, as going to the Nou Camp having lost the first leg is not a lot of fun. There was a point, with 20 minutes left, when Matuidi and then Beckham were booked, when it seemed as if Paris had run out energy. But Ancelotti made some changes and Paris fought back.

Man of the match Silva.

Match rating 9/10.

Referee W Stark (Ger).

Attendance 45,000.

Second leg Wednesday 10 April, Nou Camp

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker