Mauricio Pochettino was was relieved to put to bed the ghost of Paris Saint-Germain’s famous 6-1 defeat to Barcelona as his PSG came through a tense night unscathed to knock out Barca and qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals.
Mbappe scored from the spot early in this second leg to ease the nerves, before a brilliant Lionel Messi strike gave Barcelona hope. but goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved a Messi penalty just before the break, one of numerous chances the visitors spurned, and the game finished 1-1 to seal a 5-2 aggregate win for PSG.
“We suffered a lot in the first half, and psychologically it was a test for us,” Mauricio Pochettino said. “I gathered that the past was something that was talked about a lot here. We were better in the second half, we were more competitive.”
Barca coach Ronald Koeman tried to remain upbeat despite their exit. “We are departing this Champions League in a very different manner from the way we did last season. In this game, we hit our level and that’s the road we have to follow,” said Koeman, referring to the team’s 8-2 aggregate defeat in the quarter-finals by Bayern Munich last year.
The Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann added: “We’ve made a good impression here after a terrific performance. We had lots of chances, we just didn’t take them.”
Barca kept probing in the second half, and Messi had a chance from close range in the 61st but hesitated a split-second before shooting and allowed defender Marquinhos to block his shot with the goal gaping.
“It was a difficult match, Barca played a great game,” keeper Navas said. “They forced us to give everything we had.”
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