Messi 8/10, Dest 7/10 but Barca’s comeback falls short as they exit the Champions League

Barcelona‘s Champions League campaign ended prematurely on Wednesday, the Blaugrana losing 5-2 on aggregate after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their last-16 tie at Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi scored a stunning goal to cancel out Kylian Mbappe‘s 30th-minute penalty, but the damage had been done in the first leg at Camp Nou last month, when PSG won 4-1.

Mbappe opened the scoring against the run of play when VAR ruled that Clement Lenglet had tripped Mauro Icardi. Messi equalised seven minutes later, thumping past Keylor Navas from over 30 yards, and then had the chance to further reduce the deficit when Barca were awarded a penalty. However, his effort was pushed onto to the bar by Navas.

Ousmane Dembele had earlier missed a string of fine chances and Sergino Dest hit the bar as Barca threw everything at PSG. But it was all for naught as Ronald Koeman’s side exited the competition before the quarterfinal stage for the first time since 2007.

Positives

Barca can be proud of how they exited Europe given the appalling second half in the first leg at Camp Nou. They were far better than PSG in Paris, pushing them back for pretty much the entire game, and on another night would have got closer to replicating their famous 2017 ‘Remontada‘ against the French side.

In that sense, Koeman and his players will take confidence from their performance, which was an extension of their good form since the turn of the year. Sixteen games unbeaten in the league and into the Copa del Rey final, they could yet win the double.

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Negatives

Koeman said before the game his side would have to be clinical to turn the tie around. They weren’t, which ultimately thwarted any hopes of a comeback They had 16 shots in the first half and nine on target, which is more than any other side has managed in the first half of a Champions League game this season. Dembele was especially wasteful, while Messi missed from the spot.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Koeman took a risk playing a back three and dropping Frenkie de Jong in as a centre-back, but his side dominated the game and at least deserved to win on the night.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — Had very little to do, with PSG’s goal coming from the penalty spot.

DF Oscar Mingueza, 6 — Started well, making a couple of key interceptions, but his night fell apart when a booking for a foul on Mbappe was followed by another late challenge. Walking a tightrope with an hour to go, Koeman opted to take him off.

DF Frenkie de Jong, 7 — Missed in midfield but was commanding at the back and stepped forward when he could.

DF Clement Lenglet, 6 — Unfortunate to concede the penalty for accidentally catching Icardi, who wasn’t going to get anywhere near the ball.

MF Sergino Dest, 7 — Was a real threat in attack, beating Layvin Kurzawa for fun in the first half and also hitting the woodwork.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Involved in nearly all Barca’s moves and also came close to scoring, with Navas denying him twice.

MF Pedri, 8 — Another brilliant performance from the 18-year-old saw Mbappe seek him out and ask for his shirt after the game.

MF Jordi Alba, 7 — Was up and down the left flank all night but lacked the efficiency he’s had in the final third in recent weeks.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 — Played one great pass to set up a Dembele chance, won the penalty, and tracked back tirelessly, helping deal with the threat of Mbappe on the counter.

FW Lionel Messi, 8 — Scored a brilliant goal but will be kicking himself for not scoring more. Missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time that could have changed the game and saw a second-half chance from in close blocked by Marquinhos.

FW Ousmane Dembele, 7 — Was a constant threat, especially in the first half, but was too wasteful with his chances. Drew a good save from Navas in the 19th minute and should have scored when fed by Griezmann in the 35th.

Substitutes

DF Junior Firpo, 7 — Did well against Mbappe, coming on just after the PSG penalty.

FW Francisco Trincao, 6 — Had the beating of his man but couldn’t impact the game.

MF Ilaix Moriba, N/R — Only given 10 minutes but it was another sign of the confidence Koeman has in the youngster.

MF Miralem Pjanic, N/R — Brought on once hope of a comeback had fizzled out.

FW Martin Braithwaite, N/R — Came on too late to do anything.

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