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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory