Mar 6, 2013, 4:58 PM EST
Before Jonas launched a 55th minute blast from just outside the box, Paris Saint-Germain was in complete control of their match. But after the Valencia midfielder’s shot went just inside Salvatore Sirigu’s right post to make it 2-2, the television camera’s flashed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, watching the match from far above the field. With PSG’s best player suspended, the Ligue 1 leaders looked on the verge of capitulating.
But Zlatan’s face mirrored what we’d see from his team after the match restarted. He was concerned, disappointed having allowed a goal, but ultimately he was unshaken. He knew where his team stood. Paris Saint-Germain may have been clinging to their away goals edge on the scoreboard, but on the field they were still in control.
When Ezequiel Lavezzi scored 11 minutes later to reestablish some breathing room, the Parisians were destined to go through. They held Valencia at arm’s length over the remaining 24 minutes, cruising into the Champions League quarters after a 3-2 aggregate win.
The score doesn’t reflect PSG’s control of the tie. Valencia’s only goals came in stoppage time at the Mestalla and off a long distance shot in France. For most of the time around the goals. Paris Saint-Germain managed the match, electing to concede possession while staying firm at the back.
Blaise Matuidi, who gave another strong performance on Wednesday, was the key to their defense. Lavezzi maintained a constant threat on the counter. With Valencia struggling to develop anything going forward, their individual efforts plus solid play from teammates were enough to see off Valencia.
In truth, Valencia have bigger things to worry about than Champions League. Two points out of Spain’s top four, the economically struggling club needs to focus on their domestic campaign. That doesn’t mean they didn’t want to beat PSG. It just means they can hold their heads high and move on to the most important fight of their season.
For PSG, things are a little more nebulous. They were expected to advance past Valencia, but in doing so, we saw little indication that they’re true contenders to win this tournament. They may have never been truly threatened by Valencia, but they also failed to show the qualities we’re seeing from the tournament’s true favorites.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
Do the Gunners have themselves to blame? Or were the Toffees just too good?
Dec 9, 2013, 9:48 AM EST
Shock horror, Ronaldo and Messi go head-to-head for Ballon d’Or….
Dec 9, 2013, 9:14 AM EST
Ex-Premier League striker among those questioned as investigation continues:
Dec 9, 2013, 7:49 AM EST
Who gets your vote? Sit back, relax and watch some stunners from Osvaldo, Assaidi, Cabaye and others:
Dec 8, 2013, 11:54 PM EST
The one commonality among both stars’ groups: Almost none of their opponents have good defensive records.
Dec 8, 2013, 10:48 PM EST
Unbeaten in three, Spurs have turned things around since their loss at Manchester City.
Dec 8, 2013, 9:44 PM EST
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The difference between missed opportunities and bad luck.
Dec 8, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
Fulham decided it early against Aston Villa, while Giroud was denied late at The Emirates.
Dec 8, 2013, 7:40 PM EST
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Collin, Feilhaber, Findley and Schuler may have changed the way we see their careers.
Pulis vs. Allardyce; Crystal Palace vs. West Ham: Earle, Mustoe talk diverging paths of Eagles, Hammers (video)
Dec 8, 2013, 6:38 PM EST
NBC Sports’ analysts consider what’s going right in the South, wrong in the East.
Dec 8, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
New depths for Moyes, Everton continues to convince, and perspective required for Chelsea’s, City’s stumbles.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:51 PM EST
Roma’s enormous win, fueled by Mattia Destro’s winner in his season debut, gave the Giallorossi a vital three to keep pace with Juventus and extend their distance from Napoli.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:23 PM EST
Wenger believes consistency will be the key, but can Arsenal learn from previous campaigns and not shot themselves in the foot?
Dec 8, 2013, 12:59 PM EST
Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal the lead with just 10 minutes to go, but Gerard Deulofeu broke Arsenal fans hearts not long after.
Dec 8, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
The North London Derby gets a third chapter this season as the two sides will face off in the FA Cup third round. See the complete draw results here:
Dec 8, 2013, 10:33 AM EST
Dimitar Berbatov looked like a changed man and Steve Sidwell scored as well to give Fulham their first win in seven weeks.
Dec 8, 2013, 10:31 AM EST
Arsene Wenger has the Gunners flying high at the top of the league, with a chance for another impressive win against Everton to put them 7 points clear.
Dec 8, 2013, 9:14 AM EST
Fulham are well on their way to ending a run of six consecutive defeats.
Dec 8, 2013, 8:36 AM EST
It’s slowly coming out that David Moyes has been keeping an eye on summer target Kevin Strootman of Roma.
Dec 8, 2013, 7:50 AM EST
Can Rene Meulensteen breathe life into Dimitar Berbatov and a weary Fulham squad, or will it be Villa’s away day magic that continues to shine bright at Craven Cottage?
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