Venue: Parc Des Princes
Pic Courtesy: Getty Images
In the Parc des Princes there was only one king of the Champions League. This has been Cristiano Ronaldo’s competition and he scored the goal that murdered Paris St-Germain’s hopes of overturning a 3-1 deficit against Real Madrid.
For PSG, their season is now over and that will be crushingly hard to take, while coach Unai Emery will pay the price. There will be bitter disappointment at the French giants falling short again in a competition they desperately want to win.
On the other hand, no one could accuse Ronaldo of falling short and he achieved another record: it was the ninth successive Champions League game in which he has scored, by which he equals a mark set by Ruud van Nistelrooy for Manchester United in 2002-03.
His goal was also his 53rd away from home in the Champions League – another record – and his 117th in total. This season he has 14 in this competition, 31 overall and 22 goals in his past 13 matches.
He scored with his signature towering header. It was one of those goals we have seen him execute so many times before as he hangs in the air before powering home. In scoring – as he did twice in the first leg – he led Real to an eighth successive Champions League quarter-final as they look to win it for a third season in a row.
As for PSG, their task was made all the more difficult by the absence of the injured Neymar. The game was too much for teenager Kylian Mbappe, who was disappointing and also Marco Verratti, who started brightly but was sent off. Having been booked for a first-half tackle, he was cautioned again for disagreement and shouted at referee. Verratti, like the rest of his team, again lacked maturity.
Ronaldo’s was not the only goal and there was even an equaliser from Edinson Cavani, which gave a brief glimpse of hope before Casemiro hammered the last nail for a PSG defeat. There will be repercussions from UEFA for the French club after their unrelenting fans set off a series of flares, with the referee halting play and the PSG players pleading with their supporters to stop.
There had been fireworks and flares outside their team hotel at 1.30am and even more pyrotechnics greeted their arrival as PSG whipped up an extraordinary atmosphere. It felt like a firecracker, both on and off the pitch, as smoke drifted down from the stands, creating a haze. It boomed. But it was not until late in the first half, when Mbappe broke clear down the right, that PSG had a chance. But he had a shot instead of squaring to the unmarked Cavani.
All that money spent… and PSG look a long way off being strong enough to really claim a place among the absolute elite of European competition. The quest for a Champions League trophy will haunt PSG once more and that will probably be all for Unai Emery. Real Madrid were in control of this one from start to finish and deserve the win.