PSG top Dortmund in empty stadium, advance to Champions League quarterfinals
Paris, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- Paris Saint-Germain booked their place in the Champions League quarterfinals on the strength of a 2-0 second-leg home victory here Wednesday night, a contest played in an empty stadium due to public-health concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus.
With their 3-2 victory on aggregate, PSG are back in the tournament’s final eight after a three-season drought and have achieved that feat for the first time in the era of Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, by far the most valuable signings in club history.
By rallying from a 2-1 first-leg deficit, they also erased some of the lingering disappointment from their 2017 collapse against FC Barcelona in the round-of-16 stage of Europe’s most prestigious annual club competition and calmed some of the storm surrounding the team that had erupted after the loss at Westfalenstadion.
Although Mbappe started the match on the bench because of illness (later coming on as a second-half substitute) and Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier were unavailable due to suspension, PSG took control from the outset at a fan-less Parc des Princes.
The Parisian club nearly opened the scoring in the 25th minute on a shot by Edinson Cavani that Dortmund goalie Roman Burki managed to tip just wide of the post.
Three minutes later, Neymar scored his 35th goal of his Champions League career when he headed home a corner kick sent in by Angel Di Maria, taking advantage of poor defending on the play by Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi.
The Brazilian superstar had also notched PSG’s lone goal in the first leg.
Although no one was inside to celebrate, thousands of fans who had amassed outside Parc des Princes and chanted throughout the contest loudly showed their appreciation for a tally that gave their team the advantage on away goals.
PSG then extended their lead in this round-of-16 tie in first-half stoppage time on a goal by Juan Bernat, who redirected a cross shot by Pablo Sarabia into the back of the net.
With their backs to the wall, Dortmund came out much more aggressively in the second half but were unable to create clear chances.
Running low on ideas, the Bundesliga club looked to young star Erling Braut Haaland to rescue them but he was unable to add to his impressive tally of 10 goals in this season’s Champions League, including a brace in the first leg.
The German club’s hopes dwindled further when Emre Can was sent off in the 89th minute for fouling and shoving Neymar to the ground.
Haaland had warned after the first game in Dortmund that the club’s 2-1 lead was too close for comfort and that proved to be correct.
PSG, who have joined surprise Serie A club Atalanta, Bundesliga side Leipzig and LaLiga club Atletico Madrid (who stunned defending champion Liverpool in extra time on Wednesday) in the final eight, will learn their next opponent when the Champions League quarterfinal draw takes place on March 20.
2 – Paris Saint-Germain: Keylor Navas; Thilo Kehrer, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Juan Bernat; Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes (Tanguy Kouassi, m.92), Angel Di Maria, Neymar Jr.; Edinson Cavani and Pablo Sarabia (Kylian Mbappe m.63).
0 – Borussia Dortmund: Roman Burki; Dan-Axel Zagadou, Mats Hummels, Lukasz Piszczek; Raphael Guerreiro, Axel Witsel (Giovanni Reyna m.71), Emre Can, Achraf Hakimi (Mario Gotze m.87); Jadon Sancho, Erling Braut Haaland and Thorgan Hazard (Julian Brandt m.69).
Goals: 1-0, m.28: Neymar; 2-0, m.46: Bernat
Referee: Anthony Taylor, who showed a yellow card to PSG’s Bernat, Neymar, Marquinhos, Di Maria and Mbappe and Dortmund’s Haaland and Hummels and sent off Dortmund’s Can.