Lionel Messi, Barcelona Eliminated from UCL as PSG Advance to Quarterfinals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, is challenged by Barcelona's Oscar Mingueza during the Champions League, round of 16, second leg soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Paris Saint-Germain are moving on to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League following a 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Wednesday at Parc des Princes.

The tie was effectively over after the hosts won 4-1 in the first leg in Barcelona.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The 2nd leg of PSG-Barcelona starts at 3 ET. Barcelona seeks to avoid 3 straight UCL losses for the 1st time in history. And in case you're curious... Entering 2020-21, 12 teams lost the 1st leg of a UCL KO stage series at home by 3+ goals. NONE of them came back to advance. https://t.co/xQQjxAAcm1

Barca famously turned around a 4-0 first-leg deficit during the round of 16 in 2017, but that was a far different version of the club. Although the Spanish giants have clawed their way back to second in La Liga, they're no longer the same side that rampaged through Europe under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

Kylian Mbappe gave Barcelona an even longer road back by converting from the penalty spot in the 31st minute. A video review judged Clement Lenglet to have fouled Mauro Icardi in the 18-yard box, allowing Mbappe a straightforward finish for his seventh goal of the competition.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Kylian Mbappe becomes the youngest player to 25 #UCL goals beating Lionel Messi's record. https://t.co/qBNVbygrbG

Lionel Messi answered back in the 37th minute, firing a long-range effort past Keylor Navas.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

LIONEL MESSI. FROM WAY DOWNTOWN. 🚀 https://t.co/PGkivnnZb7

In the third minute of first-half extra time, the referee awarded Barcelona a penalty after Layvin Kurzawa fouled Antoine Griezmann. Navas got the better of Messi this time around as he deflected the shot off the crossbar.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

MESSI. NAVAS. WOW! 😱 https://t.co/VYfFAinX0B

Despite what the final score might say, Barcelona was arguably the better side on the night. It had 67 percent of possession and registered 10 shots on target to three for PSG.

Rather than playing with a level of freedom afforded to them by its three-goal lead from the first leg, Paris Saint-Germain appeared determined to avoid another historic capitulation. Its passivity left the door open for Barcelona, which might have made things more interesting with better finishing.

Miriti Murungi @NutmegRadio

Barcelona really could've evened things up already.

Matthew Coca @MatthewCocaCBS

PSG playing the bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend but don’t break defense right now

One benefit of losing the first leg so comprehensively was that Barcelona likely resigned its supporters to a round-of-16 exit long before the final whistle Wednesday night. That will have removed some of the sting from the aggregate result.

In addition, manager Ronald Koeman can now focus his players' efforts on the Copa del Rey and La Liga, where silverware is still attainable.

Paris Saint-Germain weren't as irresistible as it was back on Feb. 16, but it didn't need to be. Adding some style points would've been nice, but it got exactly what was required.

PSG remain in good position to reach a second successive final and possibly celebrate its first-ever Champions League title. As much as it may have underwhelmed against Barcelona in the second leg, you'd expect the club to only get better as manager Mauricio Pochettino has more time to build his system.


What's Next?

Paris Saint-Germain host Nantes in Ligue 1 action on Sunday and will hope to overtake Lille, which is two points clear atop the table. Barcelona returns to La Liga on Monday against Huesca. PSG won't know its quarterfinal opponents until UEFA makes the draw for the next round on March 19.