Monday, July 23, 2018

Basel 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Meunier nets late winner as visitors progress

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 1 Nov 2016


Paris Saint-Germain secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with two matches to spare as they beat 10-man Basel 2-1 thanks to Thomas Meunier’s stunning late volley.

The French champions are six points behind leaders Nice in Ligue 1, but a third consecutive European win – courtesy of goals from Blaise Matuidi and Meunier – ensured a top-two spot in Group A.

PSG overcame a stern Basel test to ultimately triumph 3-0 at the Parc des Princes in their last group game, and it was a similar story at St Jakob-Park as the hosts troubled Unai Emery’s men throughout.

However, Matuidi nudged his side in front shortly before half-time, and, although Alphonse Areola’s error allowed Luca Zuffi to equalise, Meunier struck the decisive blow.

Thiago Silva was withdrawn with an apparent head injury for PSG, but Serey Die’s red card for two bookings in seven second-half minutes hindered Basel’s chances.

Arsenal’s recovery to win 3-2 at Ludogorets, combined with this result, sent the hosts out, with PSG instead progressing through to the knock-out stages for a fifth consecutive season.

While the visitors bossed the early possession, the first chance fell Basel’s way as Matias Delgado slammed a low drive straight at PSG goalkeeper Areola from an Omar Gaber cross.

A better opening was to come at the other end, but Edinson Cavani wastefully lifted his finish over the bar after Marco Verratti’s pass sent him clear.

Verratti fired an effort of his own inches away from the top corner, before Renato Steffen looped a header onto the roof of the net for the hosts, who looked to end the first half on top as the same man lashed wide from a half-cleared free-kick.

However, PSG conjured up a goal against the run of play two minutes before the interval.

Lucas Moura’s corner from the left fell kindly for Meunier to blast back across goal to where Matuidi was waiting to dangle a leg, turning the ball across the line in unorthodox fashion.

Silva did not reappear after the break, having picked up a knock in an earlier collision with Areola, but his side were quickly on top as Tomas Vaclik parried Lucas’ volley following a fortunate ricochet in the area.

Thiago Motta’s speculative header cleared the bar, while Meunier prodded straight at Vaclik with PSG attacking relentlessly.

Lucas slipped in Cavani in a swift counter, but Gaber blocked the subsequent shot, and Layvin Kurzawa nodded wide from the corner that followed.

Angel Di Maria then forced an error inside the Basel box, but he scuffed into the keeper’s grateful arms after taking a return pass from Verratti.

Motta missed another header from close range, and that looked like it would prove costly as Areola’s error allowed the hosts back into the game.

There appeared little danger as Zuffi swung over a deep cross from the right, but, with the goalkeeper straying from his line, the ball carried over his head and into the net.

Vaclik beat away Lucas’ free-kick as PSG rallied, and Die – energetic throughout – was then dismissed for a needless stamp on Verratti.

Marc Janko could still have won it for Basel, but failed to turn Zuffi’s centre towards the target.

And in the final minute of normal time, Adrien Rabiot set up Meunier to spectacularly volley home the winner from 25 yards to win it for Emery’s men.


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