PARIS – This was supposed to be the year Paris St Germain joined the European elite with a statement victory in the Champions League, yet the French champions fluffed their lines in spectacular fashion and were trampled in the dust by a Catalan juggernaut.
After swatting aside Barcelona 4-0 in an exhilarating first leg display, an incredible meltdown in the latter stages of Wednesday’s return leg ended with the home side marching triumphantly into the quarter-finals with a 6-5 aggregate win.
Qatar-backed PSG have invested heavily in a squad designed to compete at the highest level, yet once again they were found wanting against the very best and were eliminated by Barcelona in the knockout stages for the third time in five years.
The French side paid for their passive approach as Barcelona raced to a 3-0 lead before striker Edinson Cavani netted what appeared to be a decisive away goal mid-way through the second half to leave the home side needing to score three more.
The visitors held on until the 88th minute but Barcelona simply refused to be denied and when Sergi Roberto prodded home the side’s third goal in a devastating seven-minute spell, Paris St Germain were left licking their wounds once more.
“I want to apologise to the fans,” said midfielder Marco Verratti, who had been instrumental in the first leg but was a pale shadow of his brilliant self in the Nou Camp.
“We are ashamed.”
Sports daily L’Equipe needed just one word to sum up the capitulation with the headline “Unspeakable”. Continued…