Barcelona implode as Mbappé double guides PSG into Champions League last four

Red cards for Araujo and manager Xavi set up a disastrous home exit for Barcelona as PSG book semi-final date with Dortmund

Champions League: Barcelona 1 PSG 4 (PSG win 6-4 on aggregate)

Just when Montjuïc roared, clinging to the hope that there might be a way back into this, one last chance to see Barcelona reach the semi-final for the first time in five years, there was Kylian Mbappé and his Paris Saint-Germain teammates sprinting across the running track in celebration. Two goals down from the first leg, one down in the second, Luis Enrique’s side had come back to lead 3-1 in the second, 5-4 overall, but had been on edge until the very last minute. When, at last, they broke away and silenced the Olympic Stadium.

It had been a long night for them, and even longer for Barcelona. A goal up through Raphinha, they had gone down to ten men because of a red card for Ronald Araújo and been forced to resist for just too long, goals from Ousmane Dembélé, Bradley Barcola and Mbappé giving them a 3-1 lead that they clung to in those late, tense minutes before they finally made it safe, Achraf Hakimi dashing clear to set up three successive shots which ended with Mbappé finally applying the finish.

Luis Enrique, who had spent much of the last week insisting that when it comes to DNA he is more Barcelona than Barcelona, insisted that PSG would press high, leaving the home side to go long, and to begin with he was right. Pau Cubarsí had to slide in on Mbappé, Araújo did the same to Dembélé, and Frenkie de Jong had to block a shot from Vitinha: all inside the opening three minutes. A second blocked shot followed soon after and, at this early stage Barcelona could not find a way out. The first time they did, though, they scored.

PSG had pressed every Barcelona player except Araújo, happy to allow him, theoretically the weakest with the ball at his feet, to play. Left alone on 11 minutes, he clipped a ball to Lamine Yamal on the right and the teenager took off. Dashing past Nuno Mendes, he didn’t just get all the way to the byline, he very nearly made it to the near post, where he pulled it back. With Gianluigi Donnarumma out of position again, Raphinha came running in to finish.


Montjuïc exploded and Barcelona’s players celebrated. Nine of them did, at least: alone, Araújo went to embrace Marc-André ter Stegen, a vindicated man. As for Yamal, he is 16, for goodness sake. What a future lies ahead. Just not, it turned out, in this game: within 12 minutes both he and Araújo had gone. When Barcola was released, beyond the defence, Araújo went after him, a heavy hand on the shoulder enough to see the PSG winger go down right inside the area. The referee Istvan Kovacs didn’t give a penalty but, despite Araújo trying to claim Cubarsí was there to cover and that it was shoulder-to-shoulder, he did pull out a red card. Yamal was the man – the boy – sacrificed.

Ter Stegen had already made a superb save from Mbappé just before, Jules Koundé then clearing his header off the line, and now PSG took an even more determined step forward. Barcola and Dembélé in particular were causing problems and they combined to get the goal that levelled this, the former sending a pass right across the six yard box which just missed Mbappé but was met at the far post by the latter.

Barcelona still had a two-goal lead but it was increasingly precarious. Vitinha shot over, Barcola volleyed wide and then Mendes dropped a cross just behind João Cancelo which Dembélé volleyed fractionally past the post. It was PSG’s 11th and final effort of the first half – Barcelona had two – and they soon added to it, Ter Stegen palming Hakimi’s shot at the start of the second. Mbappé then set up Fabián Ruiz, who dragged wide from six yards. Barcelona were getting ever deeper, way inside their area, which cleared the space at the edge of it from which Vitinha scored a superb, low second to level the tie.

Immediately, Ilkay Gündogan fired off a shot that clipped the post, a moment which drew a roar from Montjuïc, clinging to a sign of life in their team that was snuffed out all too soon. Again, it was Dembélé who did it. Dashing into the area, he was taken out by Cancelo. Mbappé scored the penalty high beyond Ter Stegen’s hand.

Barcelona looked broken and there was something desperate in Gündogan’s attempt to win a penalty of his own soon after, but while the difference between the teams felt huge now the margins remained fine and as long as there was only one goal in this, it wasn’t done.

Supplied by Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski almost levelled it but Donnarumma made a sharp save and Marquinhos just managed to get to the loose ball ahead of Ferran Torres. Raphinha then escaped Lucas Hernández, tumbling as he put the ball wide. And when the Brazilian clipped in a free kick, the Italian goalkeeper came out fist first and missed it entirely, only to be rescued by a raised flag.

PSG had seemed in control but there were nerves now and noise from the stands, nothing done just yet, belief growing that there was still time for a last, dramatic twist. Another gift from PGG saw Lewandowski running through, with just two minutes left. His shot was blocked by Marquinhos. Raphinha almost curled the corner straight into the net, Donnarumma reaching to to push over. This was it. One last chance, or so they thought. Everyone piled forward, the volume rising. Suddenly though, PSG were dashing clear, Mbappé dashing from one area to the other to end it.

- Guardian