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Raphinha's brace gives Barcelona slight advantage over PSG in Champions League

By Paul Myers - RFI
Sports News  Pierre Ren-WormsRFI
THU, 11 APR 2024 LISTEN
© Pierre René-Worms/RFI

Just as Paris Saint-Germain seemed set to overwhelm Barcelona on Wednesday night following two goals in three minutes early in the second-half, they lost control of their Champions League quarter-final with sloppy defending.

Ousmane Dembélé thrashed home PSG's equaliser in the 48th minute at the Parc des Princes to cancel out Raphinha's coolly taken opener for the visitors just before the pause.

Before Barcelona could recover from their former player's strike, they were trailing to a goal that would have graced their own playbook from the days when their coach Xavi called the shots in midfield with Andres Iniesta and a certain Lionel Messi.

Lee Kang-in surged from midfield down the right and fed the ball to Fabian Ruiz on the edge of the penalty area.

The Spaniard looked up and slipped it through to Vitinha who calmly slotted under goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Such savage simplicity. 

The home faithful sang joyously at the whirlwind turnaround to 2-1.

And Barcelona looked shocked under the lightning suddenly visiting them.

But Xavi's charges had been warned.
PSG, seeking a place in the last four for the first time since 2021, started brightly with Nuno Mendes down the left and Dembélé on the right trying out their tricks and faithfully executing coach Luis Enrique's pre-match command  to be ambitious.

Veteran

But the crucial opening goal in the first leg failed to materialise for the hosts. And gradually Barcelona settled as France defender Jules Koundé and his cohorts neutralised Kylian Mbappé's swashbuckling down PSG's left flank.

It was the old stager Robert Lewandowski who created Raphinha's first goal with some quick feet to open up the midfield as Barcelona countered.

The 35-year-old Pole passed to Lamine Yamal on the right but the 16-year-old's attempted return to Lewandowski was palmed away by the PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma but only as far as Raphinha alone on the left of the penalty area.

He adjusted his feet and calmly planted the ball between the PSG defenders Lucas Beraldo and Lucas Hernandez.

It was a cruel blow on the Ligue 1 pacesetters who nevertheless showed fortitude to recover and take the lead.

Raphina bagged his brace in the 62nd minute. Pedri, who had just entered the fray in place of Sergi Roberto, lobbed a ball over the PSG backline for Raphinha to run onto.

The Brazilian obliged and, without any marshals, volleyed gleefully past an abandoned Donnarumma.

Andreas Christiansen nodded in the winner from Ilkay Gundogan's corner 13 minutes from time to eclipse PSG's earlier double blow.

"I thought we were doing well during the match and playing the way we wanted," Mendes told French broadcasterCanal +.

"But unfortunately we've come away with a defeat. We've got another chance to put things right. The tie isn't over yet."

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