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PSG salvage draw against Barcelona

A late goal from Blaise Matuidi rescued a draw for Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes.

Barcelona got the scoring started through Lionel Messi, before PSG equalized, only to give away a penalty to the Spanish side before Matuidi’s last minute goal.

The big news before kick off was that David Beckham was being included from the start, and the only Englishman left in the Champions League was responsible for many of PSG’s best moves.

But it was the man who just cannot stop scoring, Lionel Messi, who got the first goal of the game, volleying home Dani Alves’s incredible pass.

The French side got a deserved equalizer in controversial circumstances, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic tapped the ball home after Thiago Silva’s header hit the post. Replays showed that the Swede was several meters offside when Silva made contact, and the goal should not have stood.

This paved the way for what were a crazy last ten minutes. First, PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu brought down Alexis Sanchez in the box and from the resulting penalty, Xavi put Barcelona back in front. Then, with the last kick of the game, Matuidi’s deflected effort bobbled past Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal, giving the French side a great chance of progressing to the semifinals.

The first half started as many would have predicted, Barcelona dominating possession, with PSG doing the running.

The best chances in the opening 20 minutes, however, went the way of PSG, with David Beckham doing much of the orchestrating from deep. First Javier Pastore’s shot was blocked my Mascherano before Lavezzi hit the post and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s free kick was saved by Victor Valdez.

Barcelona, who had their manager Tito Vilanova back in the dugout after his recent absence due to cancer treatment, responded through the spectacular Messi, who jinked into the area only to be tackled by Silva.

With 15 minutes left in the first half Barcelona stepped up their pursuit of the opening goal, which came through Messi in the 37th minute. Despite the unstoppable Argentine applying the finish, the goal was all about the pass from Alves. He cut inside before playing a fantastic ball with the outside of his right foot into the box, the bounce of the ball almost stopping it dead, for Messi to volley home.

It was to be Messi’s last contribution to the game, as he had to be replaced Cesc Fabregas at the interval due to injury.

It didn’t take long for the Spaniard to make an impact when, four minutes into the second half, his shot from the angle forced a corner, which PSG struggled to clear and their keeper was forced into a save from Busquets.

The same pattern from the first half continued, Barcelona pressing, PSG playing on the counter attack, but some of the sting the French side demonstrated in the first half was gone.

Alves was Barcelona’s most consistent threat, setting up Sanchez twice in quick succession, only for the Chilean to waste both chances.

PSG did find an equalizer through Ibrahimovic in the 79th minute. They won a free kick half way into the Barcelona half, which was met by a brilliant header from Thiago Silva that smashed into the post, and the Swedish striker was on hand to pass the ball into the net.

How the goal was allowed to stand is a mystery, however, as he was a long way offside when Silva headed the ball.

With two minutes left, PSG looked to have thrown away all their hard work. Alexis Sanchez drove into box and pushed the ball past the advancing Sirigu, who dove for the ball and got the man instead. The referee had no choice but to give a penalty, which was coolly dispatched into the bottom corner of the net by Xavi.

PSG thought they had a late equalizer when Ibrahimovic found the back of the net again, but this time he was correctly ruled offside.

There was time for one more bit of drama at the death, as PSG equalized with the last kick of the game. Ibrahimovic knocked the ball down to Blaise Matuidi whose deflected effort trickled past Valdes into the back of the net.

PSG will go to the Nou Camp full of confidence after a terrific display against Barcelona, but they will need to either win outright or score at least twice if they have any hope of progressing.

Speaking to the media after the game David Beckham said:

“It was always going to be a game when they had a lot of possession.

“They have an amazing team who keep the ball very well… 2-2 is better than it was at 2-1.

“We’ll go to their place and it could be difficult, but there’s no reason why we can’t get a result.”

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