PSG 2 Bayer Leverkusen 1: Paris St Germain show Champions League credentials
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his team advance 6-1 on aggregate
Thursday 13 March 2014
Paris St Germain underlined their Champions League credentials not just by thrashing Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate in the last 16 on Wednesday but also by showing the strength of their substitutes' bench.
Fielding a rejigged side after demolishing the German team 4-0 in the first leg, PSG beat Bayer 2-1 on Wednesday and, despite a stuttering start to the game, were never really in danger.
Coach Laurent Blanc rested his usual midfield of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi, while Marquinhos was handed a start in central defence in place of Alex.
Fullbacks Christophe Jallet and Lucas Digne also got the coach's trust after Gregory van der Wiel was ruled out injured and Maxwell was left out.
Edinson Cavani, who sat out of the first leg through injury, returned to the starting side at the expense of Lucas.
Although the midfield struggled at first, Yohan Cabaye, sitting in front of the defence, managed an impressive 141 passes and tackled relentlessly to launch PSG's attacks.
"Maybe our difficult start is due to the lack of experience," Blanc told a news conference.
"We saw that Champions League level is different from French league level."
Although Jallet committed the foul that led to Bayer's missed penalty, Marquinhos scored his third Champions League goal with a powerful header to cancel out Sidney Cam's early opener.
"It went very well for me - I not only started but also proved that I can score," the Brazilian said.
"It's great for the team. However, we must improve our defensive record. We must work harder on not conceding a goal."
Digne's offensive contribution was also remarkable as the former Lille player set up Ezequiel Lavezzi for PSG's second goal eight minutes into the second half.
Blanc still expects more from his players.
"I'm not saying the mindset was not good, I'm just saying that it's the Champions League and it's a bit harder," he said.
"But I congratulate them, I'm happy."
PSG still have a round to negotiate to emulate last season's performance when they reached the last four.
"The competition continues. we're entering money time. It's getting serious," said Blanc.
"We're having a good season, it can become a very, very good season."
PSG lead the Ligue 1 standings by eight points with 10 matches left in the season.
Latest in Sport
Commonwealth Games 2014 Opening Ceremony: Ewan McGregor launches Unicef charity fundraiser, making £2.5m in one night
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger set to cancel moves for Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin in favour of Jack Wilshere - reports
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers (and giant cans of Irn Bru) welcome in Glasgow's Games
Sami Khedira, Isco and Angel di Maria among Real Madrid players up for grabs this summer
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
- 4 John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains