Barcelona overcame a record first-leg disadvantage to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate after a breathtaking 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Nou Camp.
Trailing 4-0 from the first-leg, the Spanish champions looked on course to defy the odds when they took a 3-0 second-leg lead early in the second half. However, Edison Cavani’s 62nd-minute strike for PSG left the five-time winners needing three more goals in order to reach the last eight.
Despite leaving it late, Luis Enrique’s men found the goals they needed, with substitute Sergi Roberto’s decisive sixth goal deep into stoppage time sparking wild scenes of jubilation amongst home players and supporters.
“We risked everything and it paid off” – luis enrique
“A feat like this does everyone good and I’m delighted to enjoy a moment like this”, said Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, who last week announced he is to depart the club at the end of the season.
“I don’t think anyone stopped believing”, Enrique added.
“We risked everything and it paid off.
“You get finales like this very occasionally in football and this time it was our turn.”
Barcelona knew the history books were stacked against them after that heavy first-leg defeat in Paris, with progression to the quarter-finals requiring the biggest second-leg comeback in competition history.
With little time to waste the hosts set about their task and got an early reward when Luis Suarez got in ahead of visiting goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to nod Barcelona 1-0 in front in only the third minute.
Fortune favoured the Catalan giants in the 40th minute when they went 2-0 ahead on the night. Andres Iniesta broke into the penalty area, nipped in front of defender Marquinhos and back-heeled the ball across goal where despairing full-back Layvin Kurzawa could only turn it into his own net.
At half-time Barcelona had halved the aggregate deficit and just after the restart, they closed to within touching distance of PSG’s lead in the tie.
Neymar surged beyond full back Thomas Meunier on the Barcelona left only to be brought down in the box as the defender lost his footing. Lionel Messi ruthlessly dispatched the spot-kick, bringing the aggregate score to 3-4.
But just as the hopes of the five-time European champions were raised, a lapse in defensive concentration allowed PSG striker Edison Cavani, who earlier hit the post, time and space to rifle an unstoppable away-goal beyond Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. That goal left Barcelona requiring three unanswered strikes in the last half-hour.
But the night would ultimately belong to Barcelona, whose late flurry stunned the Ligue 1 champions.
“When I woke up I still didn’t know if it was a dream or reality” – sergi roberto
First, in the 88th minute, Neymar sent a sensational 25-yard free-kick into the top corner from the left edge of the penalty area, giving Barcelona a 4-1 lead on the night and reducing the aggregate arrears to 4-5.
In stoppage time the tie was level on the scoreboard when Neymar converted from the spot after Marquinhos had been adjudged to have felled Suarez.
But Cavani’s away-goal still gave PSG the advantage and Barcelona knew they had to score again. Goalkeeper Ter Stegen was sent forward as the home side piled on the pressure from a free-kick to no avail.
And when Barca was awarded a second free-kick in the 95th minute it was now or never. Neymar’s initial delivery was repelled but when the ball broke back to the Brazilian he floated a tantalising ball beyond the PSG defence where a sliding Sergi Roberto volleyed it home to complete the historic comeback and send Barcelona into the last eight, sparking wild scenes of celebration on the pitch and in the stands.
“In the last few minutes we lost everything we had worked so hard for”, claimed PSG manager Unai Emery.
“There’s no explanation for what happened.
“The decisions went their way, but in the vital moments we should have done so much better.”
“When I woke up I still didn’t know if it was a dream or reality”, said match winner Roberto.
“I have no words to explain how it felt. It was a magic night.”
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)