Real Madrid 3 Paris Saint-Germain 1
Cristiano Ronaldo rescued Real Madrid last night as the reigning European champions took a firm hold on their last-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
The Portuguese star became the first player in Champions League history to score 100 goals for the same club with a brace that glossed over an indifferent display from the hosts.
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For long periods Real Madrid were outplayed, under siege from a French side who in the second half failed to convert several opportunities to re-establish the lead they had first taken on 33 minutes with Adrien Rabiot’s goal.
Ronaldo, who has now scored at least 10 goals in seven consecutive Champions League seasons, had cancelled out that strike with a penalty on the stroke of half-time. He then gave Real the lead on 83 minutes against the run of play.
PSG then conceded another before the final whistle, allowing Brazilian left-back Marcelo to make it 3-1 with a goal that puts Real in the driving seat ahead of the return leg in three weeks.
It was a cruel result for PSG, who before last night were favourites to lift this season’s Champions League title having crushed all before them in the group stage. Not only did Ronaldo get lucky with his second goal, the ball from Asensio’s cross ricocheting off his knee and into the net, but PSG had a penalty claim dismissed in the second-half when Rabiot’s thunderous goal-bound shot was blocked by the arm of Sergio Ramos.
The sight of the Spanish defender rubbing his arm after the incident only deepened the French side’s frustration. PSG owner Nasser Al Khelaifi vented his anger after the game at referee Gianluca Rocchi. “The result was not just,” he told beIN Sports. “The referee’s mistakes cost us. The referee has helped Madrid.”
That was a cop-out by Al Khelaifi. A more honest appraisal of the PSG defeat came from Rabiot, who said: “I am disappointed… we always say the same things, we always do the same things, and in the end, we are always floored in the same way.”
The runaway leaders in Ligue 1 haven’t made it past the quarter-final stage of the Champions League since 1994-95 and Rabiot was brutal in his dissection of their temperament. “It’s all well and good putting eight goals past Dijon, but it’s in matches like this that you have to stand up and be counted,” he said.
Porto 0 Liverpool 5
Paris Saint-Germain are still very much in the competition, however, which is more than one can say about Porto, who were thrashed 5-0 at home by Liverpool.
The Reds will have to go through the motions at Anfield on 6 March but Jurgen Klopp and his boys know their place in the quarter-finals is booked.
For that they have to thank Sadio Mane, whose hat-trick was the main event of a magnificent match in which Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah also contributed goals.
Porto had lost only two matches in all competitions this season prior to last night but they were blown away by the pace and precision of Liverpool’s frontline, as the Reds recorded their first win in the knockout stages of the Champions League since 2009.
“It was a very good performance,” said Klopp. “We scored fantastic goals in the right moment.”
Asked if he considered the tie done and dusted, Klopp gave an admirable lesson in diplomacy. “No, of course not, why should I?” he told reporters. “We came here to create the basis for the second leg at Anfield – and that’s what we did, not more, not less. I am too long in the business to think anything is sorted before the final whistle.”
Champions League results and fixtures
Last-16 first-leg results
- FC Basel 0 Manchester City 4
- Juventus 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2
- FC Porto 0 Liverpool 5
- Real Madrid 3 Paris Saint Germain 1
Last-16 second-leg fixtures – Tuesday, 6 March
- Paris Saint Germain vs. Real Madrid
- Liverpool vs. FC Porto
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