Champions League: Real Madrid eliminate Paris Saint Germain, beat them 2 – 1

Ronaldo scores for Real Madrid
Ronaldo scores for Real Madrid

European champions Real Madrid moved into the Champions League quarter-finals as they beat Ligue 1 leaders Paris St-Germain at Parc des Princes.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in the first leg at home, which Real won 3-1, and he headed in from Lucas Vazquez’s cross to extend Real’s lead in France.

PSG had midfielder Marco Verratti sent off for two bookable offences, before Edinson Cavani pulled a goal back.

But Casemiro’s heavily deflected strike sealed Real’s victory.

For PSG, 14 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, it is the second successive season where they have gone out at the last-16 phase and it leaves manager Unai Emery’s future at the club in doubt.

They were without injured forward Neymar and were not helped by Verratti’s needless dismissal in the 66th minute. The Italy international was booked when he fouled Casemiro in the first half and was shown a second yellow card when he sprinted after referee Felix Brych and was cautioned for dissent.

Real are now into the Champions League quarter-finals for an eighth successive season and remain on course for a third title in a row.

Real ease pressure on Zidane

Real won the Spanish Supercup in August and the Fifa Club World Cup in December, but manager Zinedine Zidane has come under increasing pressure with the club struggling in La Liga. They are in third place in the Spanish top flight, 15 points behind leaders Barcelona.

However, Zidane got his tactics spot on against PSG, leaving Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale on the bench as he looked to hit the hosts on the counter-attack, with Vazquez and Marco Asensio occupying the wide midfield roles.

PSG had scored 86 goals in 28 Ligue 1 matches and also netted 25 times in their six Champions League group games, but were restricted to only three shots on target in this second leg, which was played in a fantastic atmosphere in Paris.

Ronaldo netted his 12th goal in this season’s Champions League when Real pounced on a Dani Alves error and the Portugal forward converted with a powerful header from six yards out after Vasquez’s fine cross.

Cavani scored a fortunate equaliser when a clearance rebounded off him into the net, but Casemiro’s strike went in off PSG defender Marquinhos as Real made sure of their passage into the next round.

It could have been even worse for PSG as Real also hit the woodwork twice, through Asensio and Vasquez, who collected a pull-back from substitute Bale, but struck the foot of the post.

PSG miss out again on prize they want

Paris St-Germain have won the Ligue 1 title in four of the past five years and are on course for another domestic success as they are 14 points clear of Monaco, who won the championship last season.

However, the main trophy the club’s owners, Qatar Sports Investments, had set their sights on was European football’s biggest club prize – and once again they have fallen well short.

They spent big in the summer to achieve that target, with Brazil forward Neymar moving from Barcelona for a world record fee of 222m euros (£200m), before taking Kylian Mbappe on a season-long loan from Monaco, with an option to make the deal permanent for 180m euros (£165.7m).

PSG desperately missed Neymar, who is expected to be out for the rest of the season after having surgery on a broken bone in his foot following an injury sustained during their 3-0 league win over Marseille last week.

With the money they spent in the summer, this will be seen as another failure in European competition for them and Emery.

Emery, who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, has failed to take PSG beyond the last 16 in two attempts. Last season they lost 6-5 on aggregate against Barcelona, despite winning the first leg 4-0.

PSG reached the Champions League semi-finals in 1994-95, but have not made it past the quarter-finals since then.

‘A really good performance’ – analysis

Pat Nevin, BBC Radio 5 live pundit

Having not been considered this season, Real Madrid now need to be considered as contenders.

Real Madrid deserved to win the game, a really good performance.

PSG had to be at their very best, but they were not. I am not sure Real Madrid were at their best, but they were 10 times better than they were against Tottenham (when they lost 3-1 at Wembley in the group stage in November).

French football journalist Julien Laurens on BBC Radio 5 live

PSG will have to start again. It shows that it is not easy to win the Champions League and you certainly cannot buy the Champions League, despite all the money they have spent. They will certainly need a better coach than Unai Emery because it is quite clear that he will not be the PSG manager next season.

I think the owners have a shortlist now. They have anticipated this. Even if he had won the Champions League he may not have been the manager next season. There are even rumours that they tried to sack Unai Emery in December after the defeat to Bayern Munich away in the group stages.

Someone like (Chelsea manager) Antonio Conte or (Tottenham boss) Mauricio Pochettino will be on the shortlist. You look at someone like (former Barcelona boss) Luis Enrique or (Juventus manager) Massimiliano Allegri as well. It is an attractive club for a lot of those managers. I don’t think (Arsenal’s) Arsene Wenger is the running anymore for the job.

They have tried in the past for Jose Mourinho, but him signing a new deal at Manchester United has put this one to bed for now.

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