Champions League: Barcelona’s miracle win

Football: The winners: Barcelona's lazarus act

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrating their improbable 6-1 victory over PSG at Camp Nou to go through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, 6-5 on aggregate.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrating their improbable 6-1 victory over PSG at Camp Nou to go through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, 6-5 on aggregate.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

History in the making as Barca beat PSG 6-1, the Champions League's greatest comeback

BARCELONA • Suddenly there were people running across the pitch, bodies cascading down the stands, a collective hysteria taking hold of the Camp Nou, and the kind of noise that even this famous arena, the biggest football stadium in Europe, had never heard before.

Something magical had just happened on Wednesday, something utterly implausible.

Barcelona are where they have been every year for 10 years now, into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but they got there in a way they never have; a way that no other team have.

Not just one comeback, but two. Dead, revived, dead, revived. It was a crazy night that no one in Barcelona or those watching the match on television will ever forget.

"If they (Paris Saint-Germain) can score four, we can score six," Barcelona manager Luis Enrique had said before the game.

No one believed him and he probably did not even believe himself, but it happened.

This was absurd, astonishing and agonising, too.

Luis Suarez's early opener, a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and Lionel Messi's penalty put Barca 3-0 up inside 50 minutes to give them hope that they could produce a miracle to overturn the 4-0 rout they suffered in the away first leg.

But that hope was torn from them when PSG's Edinson Cavani scored the away goal that seemed to have ended it on the hour.

So, they scored three more in seven minutes - 88 said the clock, then 91, then 95.

This time it was not hope: It was a reality. Ridiculous, but real - 6-1 on the night, 6-5 on aggregate.

"So many things can happen in 95 minutes," Enrique had said and so many things did; this was a game that will be picked over for days and an occasion that will be relived for years.

An extraordinary, mind-bending match was into its 95th minute and Barcelona's goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, was in the PSG penalty area when Neymar clipped a ball into the box that substitute Sergi Roberto reached, stretching out to prod in the goal that took Barcelona through and made history.

"I threw myself at it with everything I had and I'm very happy," Roberto said. "If Barcelona have demonstrated anything tonight, it's that we are made for nights like this."

Neymar, superb throughout, scoring two goals, making another and winning a penalty, described it as the "best game" of his career.

"This is the best game I have ever played. For what it meant, for what we experienced and because I am in great form," Neymar told BeIN Sports. "We have made history. A team like this can do anything."

For their efforts, Barcelona's players were hailed as living legends yesterday.

"You have become legends," headlined the Barcelona Sport daily, while El Munda spoke of the "miracle of a lifetime".

Germany's football bible, Kicker, spoke of a "night of magic", while Bild said simply "Barcelona move mountains".

"It is a difficult night to explain with words," said Enrique. "What defines this victory is the faith that the players and fans had."

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic said Barca had defied the critics after their first-leg humiliation.

"After Paris, many people spoke hard about our team but tonight was special, we made history," Rakitic told BT Sport. "We know we are the best team in the world."

Barcelona also set a new record by reaching their 10th straight quarter-final.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique predicted exuberant celebrations among the team's fans.

"I would say to the hospitals of Barcelona to hire nurses," said Pique. "Tonight people will make a lot of love."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'The winners: Barcelona's lazarus act'. Print Edition | Subscribe