Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Valencia (agg 3-2) | Champions League match report
Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the equaliser as Paris Saint-Germain drew 1-1 with Valencia to win 3-2 on aggregate and reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years. The Argentina forward bundled home at the second attempt after excellent work from the substitute Kevin Gameiro.
PSG had won the away leg 2-1 despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic's sending off and seemed content to sit back in an uneventful first half but the match came to life 10 minutes into the second period when Valencia's Brazilian forward Jonas pounced on a loose ball to rifle home a fierce shot from outside the penalty area.
The PSG coach, Carlo Ancelotti, brought on Gameiro not long after and his surging run led to Lavezzi's equaliser in the 66th minute. The Argentinian's initial shot was parried by Vicente Guaita but he knocked the rebound in to send his side through.
Valencia were forced to field a makeshift defence with the centre-backs Adil Rami and Ricardo Costa both injured, as well as the full-back João Pereira who was ruled out after picking up a hamstring injury during training on Tuesday. The visiting back four, however, were barely threatened by a disappointing PSG side in the first half on a mild Parisian night.
Only Javier Pastore's delicate turns caused trouble to the Valencia midfield as PSG's cautious approach gave the Spaniards the confidence to attack. Roberto Soldado's weak attempt from a clever Jonas through-ball was easily blocked by Salvatore Sirigu in the PSG goal as Valencia carved out the first chance on 15 minutes.
Ancelotti was forced to make a change when Gregory van der Wiel came on for the injured Christophe Jallet in the 27th minute but it was not until after the break that his side were punished for their lacklustre performance by Jonas's fine strike.
Ancelotti added weight to his frontline by replacing the midfielder Thiago Motta with Gameiro and the newcomer's tricky dribble caused enough confusion in the Valencia defence to allow Lavezzi to finish.
Thiago Silva, back from a two-month injury layoff, perfectly marshalled the PSG defence from there on in to see the Qatar-backed club into the last 16.
David Beckham, who signed a short-term deal with PSG in January, will have to wait to make his first Champions League appearance since 2010 after he was left on the bench.
"I hesitated between Beckham and Gameiro but I preferred Gameiro to add offensive energy," Ancelotti said. "The qualification is deserved, even if we struggled more than during the first leg. I was a bit worried after their goal because it was wide open again. In the first half we controlled but played too deep. Their goal woke us up."
Filed under: Euro 2012
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!