Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Barcelona pulls off improbable Champions League comeback vs. PSG

Thomas Muzekari
Staff Writer

They were down and out. They needed to do something special. FC Barcelona needed to come back from four goals down after losing 4-0 to PSG in Paris in the first leg of the round of 16 back on Feb. 14. On Mar. 8 in the second leg, Barcelona dug themselves out of the hole in incredible fashion, winning at home 6-1, giving the squad a 6-5 win on aggregate and completing the greatest comeback in Champions League history.
 Barcelona stayed calm, both head coach Luis Enrique and the players. Before the second leg, Enrique said: “We have to be optimistic and we are.” Andres Iniesta said the team “must believe” and that they could cause the French side problems in the second leg. The team remained positive and didn’t lose their composure.
 Barcelona started the game off brilliantly as Luis Suarez scored a goal in just the 3rd minute. Then, near the end of the first half, in the 40th minute, Iniesta got a touch on a ball from Suarez in a dangerous area, sending it across the face of goal. The ball then deflected off PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa and into the goal for an own goal. With a 2-0 halftime lead, Barcelona was still down 4-2 on aggregate. In the 50th minute, Neymar was taken down in the box by a tumbling PSG defender, and then Lionel Messi buried the penalty kick, putting Barcelona up 3-0 and within a goal on aggregate.
 However, the Spanish club suffered a setback in their comeback quest when Edinson Cavani struck for PSG in the 62nd minute. This was vital, because it gave PSG an away goal, so a tie on aggregate would put PSG through to the next round. Barca went from needing one goal to tie it to needing three goals to avoid being knocked out of the competition.
 Time kept ticking and seemingly running out on Barcelona until Neymar’s free kick goal in the 88th minute gave the team another glimmer of hope. The match reached the 90th minute and the signal went up for five added minutes of stoppage time. Another penalty was given for Barcelona in the 91st minute after Suarez went to ground in the box, and things got really interesting as Neymar finished.
 At this point with a 5-5 tie on aggregate, PSG would have gone through with the away goal. So Barcelona, in a tense last few minutes, kept pushing, trying to provide one more touch of brilliance. Desperate, they pushed everyone forward, sending goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen upfield for a free-kick. On the free-kick the ball was headed out of the box but right back to Neymar, who chipped another floating ball that Sergi Roberto got on the end of and volleyed home with the outside of the foot. This 95th minute goal put Barcelona up 6-1 in the game and 6-5 on aggregate, and it sent the Camp Nou into a frenzy. Fans went wild, the players celebrated, and Luis Enrique ran around in joy.

 Just seconds after PSG resumed play, the referee blew his whistle. Four goals down. Then needing three goals in seven minutes. Barcelona did it. It was the end to a euphoric, historic comeback on a magical night at the Camp Nou.

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