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Ancelotti hails PSG after Barcelona given fright

Paris Saint-Germain were knocked out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday night after coming close to pulling off a major upset against the Catalan giants. Coach Ancelotti hailed his players' efforts.

Ancelotti hails PSG after Barcelona given fright
PSG players applaud their fans after being knowcked out of Champions League. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

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."

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PROTESTS

WATCH: French riot police clear Catalan protesters at highway blockade on border with Spain

UPDATED: Riot squads from the French Gendarme moved in to clear the highway linking France and Spain at La Jonquera border on Tuesday morning, dragging protesters from their camps and firing tear gas.

WATCH: French riot police clear Catalan protesters at highway blockade on border with Spain
Protesters have blocked traffic on the main road between France and Spain. Photos: AFP

A joint police operation by forces either side of the border cleared protesters from the road as the blockade entered its second day. 

“There are no more demonstrators on the highway,” a spokeswoman for the security department of the eastern French Pyrenees said, adding that no-one had been hurt and the motorway was expected to reopen on Tuesday afternoon.   

A reported 19 people were arrested in total, one in Spain and 18 on the French side of the border.

As day broke on the second day of protest mobilised by Tsunami Democratic, the French police force took action to clear the busy border crossing where the AP7 joins France’s A9 dismantling a field kitchen set up by protesters.

Footage posted on Twitter shows the action when police moved in at 8am on Tuesday.

 

French police began the operation to clear the highway on the French side, firing canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowds who had camped out overnight and were singing protests songs around burning braziers.  

The protest is the latest action against the sentencing last month of nine of Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms and was called to block traffic at the border over a three-day period ending Wednesday night.

“This mobilisation is a cry to the international community so that it makes the Spanish state understand that the only possible path is to sit down and talk,” Tsunami Democratic said in a message to its followers on encrypted messaging service Telegram.

Several hundred people had gathered there, setting up a stage, camp and kitchen.

Although police managed to reopen the AP-7 in the direction of France, protests were still causing flare ups and congestion on roads in the area, including the N-11.

 

 


Protesters hold up signs declaring “All To La Jonquera”. Photo: AFP

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