Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pochettino leads praise of world-class Navas as PSG hold off Barcelona

SoccerNews in La Liga 10 Mar 2021

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Mauricio Pochettino described Keylor Navas as one of the world’s best goalkeepers after he helped Paris Saint-Germain past Barcelona in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw in Paris on Wednesday sealed PSG’s progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Catalans.

Barca were much improved compared to their first-leg display and were the dominant force in the first half in particular, firing in 16 shots, the most PSG have faced at home in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.

Lionel Messi’s stunning goal cancelled out a Kylian Mbappe penalty and the Argentina star had the chance to make it 2-1 before half-time only for Navas to keep out his spot-kick.

That was one of nine saves made by the former Real Madrid keeper, whose efforts ensured Barca’s threat of a comeback had largely dissipated by the final quarter of the match.

Navas’ display was a timely reminder of his qualities following a report in England suggesting Pochettino is interested in signing Manchester United’s David de Gea for next season.

The PSG boss appears to be perfectly happy with the number one he has at his disposal.

“Keylor had a huge game,” he told RMC Sport. “We can say his actions show his quality. He just proves that he’s at the highest level in the world.

“I think we all saw him tonight.”

Defender Marquinhos was also full of praise for Navas for largely keeping Barca at bay in the first half, in which the visitors had 73 per cent of the ball.

“It was a tough match. We knew the context was going to be different compared to the first leg,” he said.

“Since that defeat, Barca put together better matches. They had the courage to press very high and put us in difficulty to get the ball out.

“There are good and bad times in football. In a match, you have to know how to hold on. We were able to do that, with the help of our great goalkeeper, who made the difference.

“We were better in the second half and we deserved to go through.”

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