Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd... PSG's Champions League collapses
Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League defeat to Real Madrid is the latest in a string of recent embarrassing capitulations in Europe's top club competition.
Paris Saint-Germain again suffered an embarrassing European collapse on Wednesday night, surrendering a two-goal aggregate advantage in the final half hour of their Champions League last-16 tie against a Karim Benzema-inspired Real Madrid.
It was the third time in the last six years that PSG have exited the competition’s knockout rounds after throwing away an aggregate lead of two goals or more.
2016/17 Champions League last 16: PSG 5-6 Barcelona
Most famously, the Parisians let slip a 4-0 first-leg win over Barcelona in the 2016/17 last 16. Two goals by Ángel di María, plus one each by Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani, left the Spanish media bemoaning a “humiliation” for Luis Enrique’s Barça after the first leg in Paris - but it was PSG who were left with red faces three weeks later.
Luis Suárez’s early opener at the Camp Nou was followed by a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and a Lionel Messi penalty, as Barça brought the aggregate score back to 4-3 with most of the second half still to play.
When Cavani fired home an away goal for PSG, however, Unai Emery’s visitors thought they had staved off Barça’s fightback; after all, the Blaugrana now needed three more.
And, with two minutes of regulation time on the clock, they were still in need of three goals. But in a scarcely believable finale, Neymar curled in a fine free-kick before converting from the spot, and when Sergi Roberto poked home the Brazilian’s floated ball into the box, the comeback was complete.
It was the first time a Champions League team had recovered from a 4-0 first-leg defeat to qualify for the next round.
2018/19 Champions League last 16: Manchester United 3-3 PSG (United win on away goals)
Two seasons later, PSG once more found themselves out of the Champions League last 16 after dominating their opponents in the first leg. Although the advantage they let slip wasn't quite so huge, their aggregate defeat was again unprecedented.
A 2-0 win at Old Trafford was no more than PSG deserved, thanks to goals by Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappé - and, given that no side had previously overturned a two-goal first-leg home loss to qualify from a Champions League knockout tie, progression seemed all but a cert for Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Either side of a Juan Bernat goal for the hosts, Romelu Lukaku’s double in Paris left United within one goal of qualification on away goals - and after Kimpembe was adjudged to have handled in the box in stoppage time, Marcus Rashford walloped in a nerveless penalty past Gianluigi Buffon to put the seal on another PSG capitulation.
2021/22 Champions League last 16: PSG 2-3 Real Madrid
Their collapse against Barcelona will always be tough to match in terms of the size of the deficit, but PSG’s bottle job against Madrid on Wednesday feels almost as dramatic, because it was so sudden, so swift, and so brutal.
For 150 minutes of the teams’ last-16 tie, PSG were very clearly the better side. With Madrid uninspiring and fairly comfortably kept at arm’s length, Mbappé scored late on in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, before doubling PSG’s aggregate lead in the first half of the return in Spain.
Up until the hour mark of the second leg, PSG looked in total control - and then came a howler from goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. Caught dallying in possession by Karim Benzema, Donnarumma succeeded only in playing the ball right to Vinícius Júnior, who squared for Benzema to rifle home. From that moment on, Madrid were rampant, and PSG fell apart.
WIth 15 minutes remaining, Luka Modric’s fabulous through ball set up Benzema to level the tie - with the away-goals rule abolished, Mbappé’s Bernabéu goal no longer counted for double. A minute later, Benzema completed a 17-minute hat-trick with a neat outside-of-the-boot finish, and PSG had completed a hat-trick of recent European collapses.
Despite well over a billion euros of transfer spending since their Qatari takeover in 2010, PSG's wait for a maiden European title continues.