Football: Real Madrid seal last 16 spot as Nacho strike sinks PSG

Real Madrid's Nacho Fernandez (left) celebrates scoring the first goal with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid's Nacho Fernandez (left) celebrates scoring the first goal with Cristiano Ronaldo.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Real Madrid booked a place in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday after substitute Nacho Fernandez scored late in the first half to clinch a 1-0 home win over Paris Saint Germain.

The 25-year-old defender had been on the pitch for less than three minutes when he slotted in from a tight angle against the run of play after Toni Kroos’s shot was blocked in the 35th.

PSG will rue their poor finishing, having missed a series of chances especially in the first period, and went closest to scoring when Adrien Rabiot’s volley that hit the post after 37 minutes.

Real have 10 points from four games in Group A while PSG, who suffered their first defeat this season, are in second place with seven. Shakhtar Donetsk beat visiting Malmo 4-0 in the other group match with both teams now on three points.

There was a disruptive start to the game with players receiving treatment for knocks and PSG lost Marco Verratti after 17 minutes with what appeared to be a twisted ankle and he was replaced by the 20-year-old Rabiot.

It was the visitors who found their feet first with a shot from Blaise Matuidi straight at goalkeeper Keylor Navas and then Zlatan Ibrahimovic, inside the area, stroked the ball a whisker the wrong side of the right post.

Real fullback Marcelo then limped off after 33 minutes to add to the home side’s injury problems this season, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema among those unfit to face the French.

Replacement Nacho made an instant impact by knocking the ball home after a Kroos shot deflected to him off Thiago Silva.

Real responded when Rabiot hit the post with a long-range volley and Edinson Cavani miscued with only Navas to beat in first half stoppage time.

After the restart Angel Di Maria was also denied by Navas in front of goal but as the game went on Real were able to take the steam out of the contest and held on for the win.