Ancelotti hails PSG after Barcelona given fright
AFP/The Local · 11 Apr 2013, 09:08
Published: 11 Apr 2013 09:08 GMT+02:00
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In the end Barcelona secured their seemingly inevitable smooth passage to the semi-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain, but for around 20 minutes in the Camp Nou the Catalan giants were on the brink of an embarrassing exit.
When PSG's Javier Pastore gave the French club a deserved lead on 50 minutes, one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition was on the cards. Up until then Barcelona, who had started the game without their talisman Lionel Messi, could only muster wayward long-range shots, leaving PSG looking rather comfortable.
But as soon as they went a goal down, Barcelona turned to Messi, whose cute pass helped set up the equalizing goal, scored by Pedro in 71 minutes.
From then on, Barca coasted to victory and even a cameo appearance by David Beckham failed to inspire PSG to conjure up a winner.
Despite not losing to the team heralded by many as the best in the history of football, PSG went out on the away goals rule, courtesy of the 2-2 draw in the first leg last week.
PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti praised his players for their impressive display.
"We did everything we could to win. We played a great game and we were close," he said.
"It was a marvellous night, but it would have been fantastic to get to the semi-finals. We did well and didn't give up at any point."
PSG, who were playing in their first Champions League quarter final since 1995, were also heralded back in France by the French press, though there was also an element of regret that the Parisians were not able to score a crucial second goal when they were on top.
"Paris, so close to the dream", read the headline in French daily Le Parisien.
"To not qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League on a night when PSG was stronger than its hosts meant incredible disappointment," read one article in the Parisien.
"They flirted with paradise," L'Equipe noted, referring to the time between Pastore's goal and Pedro's equaliser when PSG were leading the tie 3-2.
"For over quarter of an hour PSG were qualified for the Champions League semi-finals. But Messi came on and hope disappeared.
"Aside from a couple of missed chances the club doesn't have much to regret., they leave the Champions League with honour and pride at having shaken one of the big favourites of the competition."
However, Ancelotti believes that by taking Barca so close over the two legs, they have proved they will be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years.
"This game will be useful for us in the coming seasons. We lacked a little bit of experience and some of our players were discovering the competition for the first time.
"Only time will allow us to gain the experience to get to the semi-finals, and this will be the objective for next year.
"We lost just once in 10 games, we finished first in our group and went out against a very strong team, in a very even game.
"Some people would say we didn't deserve to lose and so the experience was really good for us. I am sure we will be better in the coming years."