Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Raphinha scores twice to help Barca fight back against PSG


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PARIS, April 11: With his team trailing 2-1 and Paris Saint-Germain pushing hard for another goal, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández’s substitutions paid off immediately.
Midfielder Pedri set up the equalizer for Raphinha within a minute of coming on at Parc des Princes stadium.
Then, two minutes after his introduction, central defender Andreas Christensen headed home from a corner to give Barcelona a 3-2 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Raphinha was the pick of Barcelona’s players on the night, and the Brazil forward had scored twice before Christensen’s 77th-minute goal.
The imposing Christensen headed Ilkay Gündogan’s corner from the left past Gianluigi Donnarumma from close range as the PSG goalkeeper stood rooted to his line instead of challenging for the ball.
After that goal, PSG coach Luis Enrique’s head dropped.
Raphinha’s lively performance and finishing contrasted with a lackluster performance from Kylian Mbappé, who has scored a club record 251 goals for PSG but did not hit the target this time or make many of his trademark electric runs from deep.
Raphinha opened the scoring in the 37th and Ousmane Dembélé equalized in the 48th against his former club. Three minutes later, midfielder Vitinha put PSG ahead from Fabián Ruiz’s pass in a pulsating match where Dembélé hit the left post moments before Christensen’s goal.
Raphinha curled Barcelona ahead after Donnarumma struggled with Lamine Yamal’s slick right-wing cross, which the 16-year-old Spain winger exquisitely flicked with the outside of his left foot.
Sloppy defending from both sides followed.
Mbappé’s left-wing cross was hacked clear by Ronald Araújo and fell to Dembélé, who cut inside Frenkie de Jong and slammed the ball past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Vitinha was afforded too much space from Fabián Ruiz’s pass, and slid a shot under his body.
Raphinha read substitute Pedri’s superbly weighted long pass and clipped a volley past Donnarumma, making it 2-2 in the 62nd ahead of Christensen’s winner. Raphinha turned and stood still, arms crossed, defying the PSG crowd jeering him.
A fan ran onto the field seconds after the final whistle but was quickly caught by stewards.
The return leg is next Tuesday in Spain.The rivalry between PSG and Barcelona has intensified in recent years, with Barcelona again in the driver’s seat.


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