Paris Saint-Germain advanced to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie at Paris' Parc des Princes.
PSG won the tie 6-1 on aggregate following a decisive 4-0 victory in the first leg last month in Germany.
Leverkusen went ahead in the sixth minute through Sidney Sam, but Marquinhos drew PSG level with a powerful header seven minutes later. PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved Simon Rolfes' penalty midway through the first half before Ezequiel Lavezzi grabbed the winner shortly after half-time.
Leverkusen finished the match with 10 men following Emre Can's sending-off in the second half for his second bookable offence.
Wednesday's win was the latest step in PSG's quest for silverware on three fronts. Laurent Blanc's side lead the French league, holding an eight-point advantage over second-placed AS Monaco. If their current lead remains in place, PSG could clinch a second-straight league title at home to Stade Rennes on May 4.
PSG have also reached the final of the Coupe de la Ligue, in which they will face Lyon on April 19 at the Stade de France.
Leverkusen, meanwhile, remain locked in a fight for third place in the Bundesliga, which guarantees automatic qualification to next season's Champions League. Currently level on points with fourth-placed Schalke, Leverkusen face a daunting trip to runaway leaders Bayern Munich this weekend before a home match against mid-table TSG Hoffenheim on March 23.
Facing such a large deficit from the first leg, Leverkusen needed a fast start in Paris. Within six minutes, the visitors had pulled a goal back. Rolfes passed to Giulio Donati on the right, and he curled a fine cross to the back post for Sam, who headed in for a quick 1-0 lead.
"(The opening goal) woke us up. We leveled, but if I remember the first half, (goalkeeper) Salvatore (Sirigu) kept us afloat," Blanc told UEFA.com. "In the second half it was a little better, but tonight Paris did not deliver a memorable performance."
Leverkusen still trailed 4-1 on aggregate, but after scoring so early, the German side had some hope. It didn't last long, though. Bernd Leno tipped over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shot in the 12th minute, but Marquinhos powered in his header from the resulting corner to pull PSG level at 1-1 a minute later.
Ibrahimovic came close to scoring PSG's second with a clever chipped shot over Leno six minutes later, but the ball hit the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
Leverkusen won a penalty in the 27th minute after PSG's Christophe Jallet pulled back Eren Derdiyok in the box. Rolfes struck his spot-kick well, but Sirigu dived to his left and pushed away the shot to keep PSG level.
After the break, PSG took the lead in the 53rd minute. Digne drove down the left and pulled back for Lavezzi, who fired in at the near post with his first touch to make it 2-1.
The goal meant Leverkusen now trailed by five goals on aggregate, but the visitors refused to give up. Donati forced Sirigu to save in the 55th minute, and Gonzalo Castro bounced another shot on target three minutes later. Castro turned provider in the 66th minute, setting up Derdiyok, who saw his shot saved in the middle of the goal.
Two minutes later, Leverkusen were reduced to 10 men as Can drew a yellow card for simulation. It was his second booking and Ivan Bebek flashed the red card.
The sending-off finally ended Leverkusen's resistance, and PSG cruised to victory over the final 20-plus minutes.
"I hope everyone saw that we delivered a good performance. I am quite happy with the attitude my team showed against Paris," Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia told UEFA.com. "Overall, I feel we can leave here with our heads high. Coming into the match nobody believed in us, but I am glad we showed that we can perform."
|Paris Saint-Germain Player Ratings vs. Leverkusen|
|Lucas Moura (for Lavezzi, 63')||N/A||7|
|Jeremy Menez (for Ibrahimovic, 72')||N/A||7|
|Zoumana Camara (for Cavani, 85')||N/A||6|
|Bayer Leverkusen Player Ratings vs. PSG|
|Julian Brandt (for Sam, 67')||N/A||7|
|Heung-Min Son (for Castro, 67')||N/A||5|
|Maximilian Wagener (for Reinartz, 78')||N/A||6|
PSG host St. Etienne on Sunday in Ligue 1.
Bayer Leverkusen play at Bayern Munich on Saturday in the Bundesliga.
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