Neymar double seals comfortable Barcelona progression
Barcelona stormed into the semi-finals of the Champions League with a dominant 2-0 second leg victory over reigning French victors PSG, thanks to a brilliant brace from sublime Samba star Neymar.
The Brazil international’s delightful double helped the Spanish giants to a comfortable 5-1 aggregate triumph, with the hosts having previously romped to a 3-1 win on their travels to Paris in an exciting reverse leg.
After a slow start to proceedings in front of a sell-out Nou Camp crowd, a moment of brilliance from Barcelona’s midfield maestro Andres Iniesta lined up in-form forward Neymar to clinically open the scoring.
A dazzling combination between the prolific pair saw the Brazilian round helpless Italian stopper Salvatore Sirigu and slot home his side’s opener, after his Spanish teammate had sensationally skipped past the entire PSG midfield, before playing a deadly through ball.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked to have levelled the match against his former employers only moments later, finishing off a fantastically worked team move, but the linesman ruled his effort out for offside.
The ever-available Dani Alves found space down the right flank after 20 minutes and picked out Argentine attacker Lionel Messi in the penalty area, who volleyed towards the top corner but seen his shot sail just over the crossbar.
It was then creative full back Alves that turned provider for his fellow countryman Neymar, as he swivelled away from a defensively troubled Maxwell to deliver an inch-perfect cross on to the head of the brilliant Brazilian, who exposed the gap to nod home his second and open a four-goal aggregate lead.
PSG centre back David Luiz was given a torrid time by Luis Suarez in the first leg in the French capital, and he again showed defensive naivety this time out, failing to obtain a strong position during quick build-up to the hosts’ second goal.
Barcelona continued to control the game into the second-half, with the PSG midfielders finding it an impossible task to gain possession or cause any genuine attacking threat from deep, despite boasting central talents like Marco Verratti and Yohan Cabaye in their ranks.
Nou Camp hero Xavi Hernandez was introduced at the break, making way for fellow Spaniard Iniesta, and he instantly began to dictate proceedings on his record 148th Champions League appearance.
Former Catalans frontman Ibrahimovic, who is yet to win the Champions League in his career, found himself in a great position with only quarter of an hour to play, but his viciously driven strike failed to trouble Barcelona’s European competition goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Despite the late efforts of Laurent Blanc’s men, there was to be no recovery in Spain, as PSG crashed out at the quarter-final stage again at the hands of a superior Barcelona outfit, who rallied to their seventh semi-final outing in eight seasons.