Updated: March 11, 2021 12:47:36 pm
Paris Saint-Germain withstood early pressure from a much-improved but wasteful Barcelona side to draw 1-1 on Wednesday and reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
PSG lead 4-1 from the first leg of their round-of-16 game and moved four goals clear when Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat trick at Camp Nou, netted with a confident penalty in the 31st minute.
That goal was firmly against the run of play and, after Barca had squandered possession and chances, Messi equalized in the 37th with a powerful shot from 25 meters that tore into the top left corner.
But the six-time Golden Ball winner then had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the stroke of halftime, his first miss from the spot in the Champions League since 2015.
It is the first time since 2005 that neither Messi nor his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo have reached the last eight of the competition, following Juventus’ exit on Tuesday.
Barcelona dominated the first half and easily could have been ahead at the break — and threatening an unlikely comeback — if not for some very wasteful play from winger Ousmane Dembele in terms of both sloppy passing and poor finishing.
“We’ve made a good impression here after a terrific performance,” Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann said. “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,” Navas said. “They forced us to give everything we had.”
At the same stage of the competition four years ago, Barcelona lost 4-0 in Paris only to win 6-1 at Camp Nou in one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
Neymar and Messi tormented PSG that night, but there was to be no reply this time.
Barca’s coach Ronald Koeman made three substitutions for the closing stages, but the visitors’ hopes gradually fizzled out as a cold wind whipped around Parc des Princes.
Koeman selected Frenkie de Jong as a makeshift center half, but most of the action was at the other end as Barca made a bright start.
Dembele had a low shot saved and then wasted a great chance to pick out the unmarked Messi moments later, shooting over instead.
Messi played a pass behind PSG’s defense and Dembele burst through, forcing Navas into a fine one-handed save with a low shot. Navas then tipped Sergino Dest’s drive onto the crossbar as Barcelona opened PSG up with its passing and movement.
But Dembele overhit a simple pass that would have given Messi an open goal midway through the half and Barcelona soon paid the price. PSG took the lead after a video review ruled that defender Clement Lenglet clipped striker Mauro Icardi. Mbappe sent his spot kick to goalie Marc Andre ter Stegen’s right.
Barca came straight back and Dembele was erratic again, hitting a low shot straight at Navas after Griezmann’s superb angled pass gave him space inside the left of the penalty area.
Messi then took matters into this own hands, smashing an unstoppable shot past Navas with ferocious power. The goalkeeper did better when he saved with his legs from Sergio Busquets as Barcelona poured forward.
Incessant pressure led to a penalty for Barcelona, again following a VAR check, when Kurzawa was adjudged to have impeded Griezmann.
Messi seemed hesitant and went for power against Navas, his former rival at Real Madrid, who kicked the ball onto the crossbar with an outstretched leg.
“It’s always tough to stop a penalty, especially from Messi who hits them very well,” Navas said. “I’m very pleased, it gave everyone a lot of energy.”
With that miss, some of the belief seemed to sap from Barcelona and the second half was more even.
Mbappe had the last chance for PSG, but blazed his shot way over in the 90th with Icardi waiting for a pass.
Liverpool beat Leipzig to reach Champions League quarters
With its Premier League title defense in tatters, Liverpool kept its last chance of a trophy alive by beating Leipzig 2-0 Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané scored Liverpool’s goals to complete a 4-0 win on aggregate. Liverpool ended its run of six defeats in home games, at least technically, as Jürgen Klopp’s team was officially the host at the neutral Puskas Arena in Hungary.
Klopp said Liverpool succeeded by forgetting about the collapse of its campaign in England, where the team is 25 points off the league lead.
“We had to switch off the Premier League stuff to get here and give it a proper try. The boys really enjoyed themselves tonight which is important,” Klopp told broadcaster BT Sport.
A string of saves by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi — once a Liverpool player — kept Leipzig in contention before Salah made the breakthrough in the 70th minute. Salah lined up a low shot tucked inside the right post after Diogo Jota showed smart movement on the counter to create space for Salah before passing to the Egypt forward.
As Leipzig — which surprisingly reached the semifinals last season — tried to find a way back into the game four minutes later, substitute Divock Origi found space on the right flank to cross low for Mané to tap in.
The closest Leipzig came to scoring was when Alexander Sorloth headed against the crossbar in the 67th, before Liverpool responded with two goals to end the German team’s chances.
Just as in the first leg, Liverpool was gifted chances by defensive blunders. Leipzig has the fewest goals conceded of any team in the Bundesliga but couldn’t reproduce that form in Europe this season, conceding 16 times in eight games.
“The best thing the boys did is nobody could really see how good Leipzig can be,” Klopp said. “We defended them really well because they are a monster usually. They’re so powerful and can run in behind, but we defended that really well.”
A long ball from Thiago Alcantara found Salah free behind the Leipzig defense in the 24th before Gulacsi parried away the Egyptian’s shot and Mané headed the rebound into the ground. Not long after, Diogo Jota beat Nordi Mukiele and found the Leipzig back line open in front of him before Gulacsi again saved.
At the other end, Alisson Becker stopped an early Leipzig attack, pushing away a shot from Dani Olmo in the 10th when Leipzig exploited Liverpool’s high defensive line to counter. Injury-hit Liverpool’s latest makeshift center-back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips largely held firm, though Emil Forsberg went close when he beat Phillips dragged a shot wide of the post late in the first half.
“We didn’t reach our best level of achievement today and so we don’t deserve to progress, however tough that may feel,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told Sky Sport in Germany.
Both legs were played in Budapest because of restrictions in Germany on travel from Britain amid the pandemic. Liverpool was barred from entering Germany for the first leg, and Leipzig would have had to put its players in quarantine after returning from Britain if Liverpool had hosted at Anfield.
The Hungarian capital is also hosting both of Manchester City’s last-16 matches against German club Borussia Mönchengladbach.