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Andreas Christensen nets winner as Barcelona beat PSG in first-leg thriller

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Apr 2024

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Barcelona seized the initiate in their Champions League quarter-final with Paris St Germain after Andreas Christensen’s header secured a 3-2 win from a thrilling first leg at Parc des Princes.

Substitute Christensen, who won the competition with Chelsea in 2021, nodded home an Ilkay Gundogan corner just two minutes after coming off the bench to add to Raphinha’s double.

PSG trailed at the break following Raphinha’s opener but looked well placed to take a lead to Spain next week when quick-fire strikes from former Barca forward Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha turned a topsy-turvy tie in their favour early in the second period.

Luis Enrique’s Ligue 1 hosts hit the woodwork either side of Raphinha’s second before Christensen settled an engrossing encounter between two heavyweight clubs.

Kylian Mbappe was largely subdued as his quest to become a European champion before leaving the French capital in the summer suffered a setback.

With former PSG and Barcelona forward Ronaldinho and France manager Didier Deschamps among those watching from the sold-out stands, the hosts had the better of the cagey opening exchanges.

Yet the visitors grew into the contest and went closest to an early breakthrough.

PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced to race out of his box to deny Raphinha before Nuno Mendes cleared Robert Lewandowski’s goal-bound header off the line following Gundogan’s corner.

Mbappe had made little impact at that stage but suddenly came to life, culminating in Kang-In Lee stinging the palms of visiting keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Gianluigi Donnarumma endured a shaky start to the match, particularly from crosses, and he failed to convince as Barcelona snatched the lead eight minutes before the break.

A flowing move which began deep in Barca territory led to the Italy keeper diving at the feet of Lewandowski following a dangerous delivery from 16-year-old Lamine Yamal but his slight fingertip touch fell kindly for Raphinha to fire his first Champions League goal high into the unguarded net.

PSG boss Enrique was the last man to lead Barcelona to Champions League glory – in 2015 – and he was left with plenty to ponder at the end of an underwhelming first half for the hosts.

The Spanish coach’s half-time team talk clearly did the trick as PSG raced out of the blocks in devastating fashion.

Dembele, who left Barca last summer having cost almost £100million from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, seized on a loose ball in the away team’s 18-yard box and chopped his way past Frenkie de Jong to lash a powerful left-footed effort into the roof of the net.

Vitinha turned the tie on its head just three minutes later, taking a touch to control a precise pass from Fabian Ruiz before calmly slipping the ball beyond Ter Stegen.

Momentum was firmly with the home side and shell-shocked Barca were fortunate not to fall further behind in the 55th minute when Bradley Barcola’s effort flicked the top of the crossbar after brushing the fingertips of Ter Stegen.

PSG were left counting the cost of that near miss just seven minutes later when the away side drew level.

Donnarumma conceded possession with a poor clearance and Barca substitute Pedri made an instant impact with an inch-perfect lofted pass which was expertly dispatched on the volley by Brazil forward Raphinha.

Dembele fired against the right post as PSG pushed to regain the lead before decisively falling behind again 13 minutes from time.

Corners had been a problem for the home side all evening and the unmarked Christensen took advantage by heading home Gundogan’s inviting delivery from inside the six-yard box.

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