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Matuidi strikes at death as PSG hold Barca

AFP
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Messi uncertain for return leg against PSG next Wednesday after suffering a hamstring injury

Not going to give up easilyParis Saint-Germain twice came from behind in the first leg of their quarterfinal against Barcelona. After Messi had scored the opener in the 38th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) rose to the occasion to strike the equaliser in the 79th minute. And just when Barca thought they’d sealed the tie with Xavi’s penalty (89’), Blaise Matuidi (left) equalised again with the last kick of the game (90 + 4’).Photo: reuters
Not going to give up easilyParis Saint-Germain twice came from behind in the first leg of their quarterfinal against Barcelona. After Messi had scored the opener in the 38th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) rose to the occasion to strike the equaliser in the 79th minute. And just when Barca thought they’d sealed the tie with Xavi’s penalty (89’), Blaise Matuidi (left) equalised again with the last kick of the game (90 + 4’).Photo: reuters

Blaise Matuidi struck with the last kick of the game to earn Paris Saint-Germain a 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

Matuidi’s shot sneaked through the grasp of Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and across the line to keep PSG’s hopes of winning the tie alive ahead of next week’s return at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona thought they had won the game when Xavi Hernandez netted an 89th-minute penalty after Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had earlier exchanged blows in a pulsating contest in the French capital.

And, while they maintain the upper hand thanks to their two away goals, this was not a good night for the Spanish league leaders, who lost Messi to a hamstring injury, while Javier Mascherano also went off injured.

PSG started well and came desperately close to taking the lead inside five minutes when Ezequiel Lavezzi saw a shot from inside the area take a touch off Sergio Busquets and hit the post.

Valdes then had to turn a Javier Pastore effort around the post and save well from a Ibrahimovic free-kick.

Barcelona were unsettled, but slowly managed to subdue the French league leaders’ before taking the lead in the 38th minute when a first-time Dani Alves pass with the outside of the right boot dropped into the path of Messi.

The Argentine’s finish, volleyed into the far corner, was as emphatic as Alves’ assist was sublime. It was Messi’s eight goal in the Champions League this season, and his 59th altogether in the competition. Messi, however, was then injured and did not reappear after the restart, as Cesc Fabregas took his place.

They still had chances to put the tie to bed, with Alves firing narrowly wide from a 25-yard free-kick midway through the second half after Beckham had been booked for bringing down Sanchez.

By that point, the pace of the game had caught up with the former Real Madrid man, and Marco Verratti took his place. But PSG remained a threat at set-pieces, and it was from a dead-ball delivery that they drew level 11 minutes from time.

Captain Thiago Silva rose highest inside the box to head a free-kick off the inside of Valdes’ right-hand post, and Ibrahimovic reacted quickest to prod the ball over the line.

The home fans’ joy was short-lived though, with Barcelona winning a penalty when ‘keeper Salvatore Sirigu brought down Sanchez. Xavi converted from 12 yards, only for Matuidi to make it 2-2 right at the death.AFP


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