Champions League: Barcelona’s miracle win

Snatching a win from the jaws of defeat

From top: Neymar celebrating after his 88th-minute free-kick goal, which was Barcelona's fourth that night.Neymar making it 5-1 with his 90th-minute penalty. Sergi Roberto prodding home in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barca beat PSG 6-1.
Neymar celebrating after his 88th-minute free-kick goal, which was Barcelona's fourth that night.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
From top: Neymar celebrating after his 88th-minute free-kick goal, which was Barcelona's fourth that night.Neymar making it 5-1 with his 90th-minute penalty. Sergi Roberto prodding home in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barca beat PSG 6-1.
Neymar making it 5-1 with his 90th-minute penalty. PHOTO: REUTERS
From top: Neymar celebrating after his 88th-minute free-kick goal, which was Barcelona's fourth that night.Neymar making it 5-1 with his 90th-minute penalty. Sergi Roberto prodding home in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barca beat PSG 6-1.
Sergi Roberto prodding home in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barca beat PSG 6-1.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BARCELONA • First came the "mourning" then the opportunity for revenge, claimed vindicated outgoing Barcelona coach Luis Enrique after overseeing the greatest comeback in Champions League history by thrashing Paris Saint Germain (PSG) 6-1 on Wednesday.

Despite Barca's stars, it was the manager who was first in the firing line when the Catalan side were torn apart 4-0 in the first leg in Paris three weeks ago.

"Firstly we had to go through the mourning," said Enrique. "It was hard, especially on one person. I don't read it, but I am aware of it all."

In the aftermath, Enrique confirmed he would not remain as coach next season after three highly successful years in charge.

In removing the tension around his future, he changed the narrative and gave his team the freedom from which they made the seemingly impossible, possible.

"This victory is dedicated especially to the Barca fans that had faith even after one day in which the team was outplayed as was the case in Paris," said Enrique. "This team has shown they know how to win because they have won a lot, but, when we have lost, we have also shown we know how to lose, especially me."

He also played a vital role in recognising his team's shortcomings and changing his formation.

Barcelona have played 4-3-3 since the days of Johan Cruyff's reign in the 1980s. Yet, in the past four games, a change to 3-4-3 has resulted in a crucial La Liga win at Atletico Madrid and thrashing of Sporting, Celta Vigo and PSG by a combined score of 17-2.

"This system gives us more options, more situations that pin back the opponents, more players that can participate," Enrique said.

Ironically, midfielder-turned-right-back Sergi Roberto had been one of those left out as a result.

Yet, he still proved to be the hero as he came off the bench to prod home Neymar's cross in the 95th minute to spark wild scenes of joy at the Camp Nou.

Having won a treble and a double in his first two seasons, Enrique wants to win it all again before departing in June.

"I imagine among our rivals our qualification hasn't gone down well," he said. "We want the three titles."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Snatching a win from the jaws of defeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe