Real Madrid advanced to the quarter-final of this season’s Champions League, forcing Paris Saint-Germain out at the earliest with a 2-1 away win at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night.
The current holders took a 3-1 advantage into the second leg, while the French side had it all to do, especially after losing Brazilian sensation Neymar to injury.
Things kicked off after a moment of silence was observed in light of the passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. And the home side certainly looked up for it, racing out of the blocks under the cover of a thick fog of smoke caused by the many flares cracked in the French stadium.
Madrid wasn’t made to feel very uncomfortable though, appearing up for it just as much as the hosts. The Spanish side recorded the first shot on target, coming very close to taking the lead in the 17th minute through Sergio Ramos’s close-range shot after he got on the end of Marco Asensio’s cross to force a good save from Alphonse Areola.
The stopper stepped up again in the 37th minute, and this time more impressively as he denied Karim Benzema goal with another save – off his leg – from a tight angle in a one-on-one situation.
PSG began looking more dangerous closer to the halftime whistle and could have probably opened the scoring in the 42nd minute if Kylian Mbappe had kept his head up and squared the ball across the goal for an unmarked Edinson Cavani, after breaking through the Madrid defence to receive a pass in the box on the right side of the goal.
The French youngster went for the shot himself, much to Cavani’s frustration, and Keylor Navas played his part and made the save.
The teams went into halftime all square, with PSG still needing two unanswered goals to go through to the quarters.
— Betclic France (@Betclic) March 6, 2018
Real didn’t take very long to get things going in the second half, with their most likely scorer Cristiano Ronaldo breaking the deadlock by means of a precise header in the 51st minute.
Dani Alves somewhat lackadaisically gave the ball away to Asensio in midfield, prompting the Spaniard to barge down the left flank and find Lucas Vasquez, who in turn picked Ronaldo out with a cross.
The goal marked the 437th of Ronaldo’s Madrid career, an incredible stat when you realise he’s scored 10 more goals than he’s played games for Los Blancos.
Things were made significantly worse for the home side when Marco Verratti was shown red for a second bookable offence in the 66th minute. Yet they did manage to put one past the Madrid defence 20 minutes from time when Angel di Maria’s cross found Thiago Silva, whose header hit Ramos before bouncing off Cavani’s leg and into the goal.
Madrid regained the lead not long after, however, with Casemiro’s deflected shot beating Areola to give the visiting side a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go.
Unai Emery took Kylian Mbappe off for former Real midfielder Lassana Diarra after the goal, suggesting that he had given up all hope of an improbable comeback.
And after all of the intense summer spending and team building which took place during the summer, it would be the current champions who would march on from this tie, despite their horrific domestic form.
PSG: Alphonse Areola; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Yuri Berchiche; Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot; Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Lucas Vazquez, Casemiro, Mateo Kovacic, Marco Asensio; Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.