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.
Apr 18, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Where and how to watch all the PL games during Week 35:
Apr 18, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Three Chelsea legends to sign on the dotted line?
Apr 18, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
Can van Basten get the best out of Johannsson?
Apr 18, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
U.S. national team head coach speaks out on Altidore, USMNT squad, American Outlaws and more:
Apr 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Spurs and Fulham set for derby scrap, with both team desperate for three points:
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT
Rooney and Fellaini fit to face their old team, as United aim to scupper Everton’s top four:
Apr 18, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
Hammers’ youngster loses battle against cancer:
Apr 18, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
Six nominees for PFA Player and Young Player of the Year award announced:
Apr 18, 2014, 7:51 AM EDT
Beckerman and Bradley; the perfect midfield combination for the USMNT?
Apr 17, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT
MLS’s nine-match Saturday kicks off Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET, with Chicago hosting New England on NBCSN.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
Think MLS’s conferences are unbalanced now? Let me offer you a glimpse at 2017.
Apr 17, 2014, 7:44 PM EDT
An American consortium has a deal to buy the club from Randy Lerner, if it can avoid relegation.
Apr 17, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT
The 21-year-old U.S. international appears to have underestimated the impact of an in-season tattoo.
Apr 17, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT
U.S. number one signs extension that will take him through the next World Cup cycle.
Apr 17, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT
Gunners playmaker back fit, as Arsene Wenger expects big things from the German next season:
Apr 17, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT
Real Madrid has the easiest path, with the next two weekends potentially knocking the holders out of contention.
Apr 17, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT
England international a doubt after hamstring injury, why would Liverpool risk him?
Apr 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT
Which MLS teams can join New York in leaving the ranks of the winless?
Apr 17, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT
Unstoppable Reds continue to roll, but where did the contenders shake out in our latest rankings?
Apr 17, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT
Both players should be back by the time their national teams start preparations for this summer’s World Cup.
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