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[[DES_1]]FC Barcelona have lost for the first time this season. Luis Enrique said before the game that he believed PSG are serious candidates for the Champions League title, and he was proved right.
David Luiz put the home side ahead, but Messi responded within seconds. Then goals from Verratti and Matuidi either side of half-time put the French champions back in command, and although Neymar pulled one back for Barça, an intense final half hour produced no more goals.
Early setback, rapid response
It was clear from the very start that this game was going to produce thrills. Both sides went straight out at each other, but PSG were making the better use of that early pressure and took the lead after just ten minutes when David Luiz pounced on a loose ball in the area, leaving no chance for Ter Stegen, who was once again given the nod in a Champions League fixture. After seven clean sheets, it was the first goal Barça have conceded in a competitive match this season.
But the vociferous crowd in the Parc des Princes weren’t celebrating for long. No sooner had the game restarted than Messi and Iniesta conjured up a delightful one-two, with the Argentinian delivering a fine low drive to beat PSG keeper Sirigu and claim Barça’s 500th goal of the Champions League era.
PSG back ahead
After a manic first 15 minutes, Barça, wearing their yellow third strip for the first time, settled into their normal game, but just after Messi had set Neymar up with a cheeky chip that the Brazilian only just failed to convert, there was disaster at the other end of the pitch. Motta supplied a fine cross and following a confusion involving Rakitic and Ter Stegen, Verratti slipped through to head the French champions back into the lead.
Try as they could, Barça couldn’t make amends and a lively first half ended with them trailing 2-1.
The restart saw plenty more quality football from both sides, but in the 54th minute it was once again PSG who managed to turn that football into a goal, with Van der Wiel delivering a perfect low cross from the right wing and Matuidi having little more to do than tap it in.
Neymar gives hope
But for the second time of the night, Barça reacted to a PSG goal with one of their own immediately after. Neymar collected a cross right in the middle of the area and executed the perfect delivery to get Barça back in contention.
There was still half an hour to go, and Barça pushed forward with more intense pressure than ever. But PSG know how to defend and also to play the counter attack, with Cavani and Pastore both breaking free on several occasions that could have been more fatal had Macherano and Ter Stegen not come to the rescue.
Luis Enrique sent on Munir and Sandro, as well as Xavi to beat Raul’s record for appearances in the Champions League era, and all kinds of chances fell to Barça - Munir's attempt skimmed the wrong side of the post and Jordi Alba looked certain to score before Marquinhos produced a last-second tackle to deny him.
Time was running out for Barça, and intense as their football was, the equaliser just didn’t want to come, and they’re returning from Paris empty handed.
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