Mar 6, 2013, 4:58 PM EDT
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.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:02 PM EDT
Can the Gunners go on the road and beat Bayern 2-0 for a second-straight season in the UCL?
Mar 11, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
American investment company now owns 25 percent of United’s total shares on the NYSE:
Mar 11, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT
Newcastle boss full of remorse after unsavory incident lands him in hot water:
Mar 11, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT
Pardew reprimanded by the FA, is his ban long enough?
Mar 11, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
German youth international, eligible to play for the USMNT, set to extend stay with Arsenal:
Mar 11, 2014, 10:46 AM EDT
Ankle sprain is “a very rare and unique injury, and we are trying to treat it as well as possible.”
Mar 11, 2014, 4:55 AM EDT
Milan’s failed to turn its season around, with Atlético has stabilized after a February swoon.
Mar 11, 2014, 3:47 AM EDT
Bayern’s lost twice in the last 12 months – once to Arsenal. The holders will look to avoid a repeat of last year’s visit.
Mar 10, 2014, 10:32 PM EDT
There’s also a freshness under Mastroeni, who oozes the respectability that comes from a distinguished career.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:54 PM EDT
The Black Cats have played three less matches than the Bluebirds and two less than the Baggies. A win over Palace would land them even with the Eagles.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
“What I said to the players is ‘get it out of your head. Go home, reflect a little bit and I will do my best to come up with something better.’”
Mar 10, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
It wasn’t a pretty night to be in Turkey, as violent fans at Trabzonspor forced the abandonment of a match with rivals Fenerbahce on Monday night.
Mar 10, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT
What to do with the goal-scoring 34-year-old Scot who’s out of contract in June?
Mar 10, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT
“Kevin made a huge contribution to our qualification for the World Cup, he never let us down and now his dreams have died,” said Holland manager Louis van Gaal.
Mar 10, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
Like Manuel Pellegrini and his distaste for a certain Swedish official, Wenger is also critical of UEFA slotting in a referee from a non-footballing power.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT
MLS has become a decent destination for goalkeepers, with top internationals for Peru, Brazil and Panama plying their trades in the United States this season.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
Djalo, 27, hasn’t found his footing in Lisbon, playing in just three matches since then and spending parts of 2012 and 2013 on loan at Toulouse in Ligue 1, where he appeared 17 times.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Arsenal has been handed a boost for their massive Tuesday task of reversing Bayern Munich’s 2-0 advantage in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“It’s like playing 1 1/2, 1 3/4 games in terms of damage to your body,” said Ryan Nelsen.
Mar 10, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT
That is not a lousy public high-five for a player, now, is it?
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