PSG banish last-16 demons in empty stadium
Holders Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 after Atletico Madrid scored three goals in extra-time to earn a shock 3-2 victory at Anfield on Wednesday that sent them through 4-2 on aggregate.
After falling 2-0 down on the night, substitute Marcos Llorente struck twice in extra-time and Alvaro Morata added a late third to ensure a famous victory for Diego Simeone's side against a Liverpool team unbeaten in their last 25 home games in European competition.
Premier League leaders Liverpool enjoyed the greater possession, created more chances, drew a series of saves from Atletico keeper Jan Oblak and scored through Georginino Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.
Yet after last season's memorable comeback by Liverpool against Barcelona in the semi-finals, it was the Spaniards who turned the tables this time.
Simeone's Atletico are famed for their defensive solidity and their superb organisation and those qualities were on full display, but it was their clinical finishing and remarkable spirit that proved the key elements.
"We don't know where our limit is," said Llorente who had only scored once for Atletico before this game.
"We all defended until the death and when a team all digs in like this, things like this happen. I cannot describe this feeling," he said.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was not impressed with Atletico's approach, however.
"I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter attacks," said the German.
"We accept it of course but it doesn’t feel right tonight," he said.
After allowing an early chance for Diego Costa, which the former Chelsea forward drove into the side-netting, Liverpool, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, laid siege to the Atletico goal.
They powered forward in waves of attacks but Atletico were resilient with central defenders Stefan Savic and Felipe foiling everything Klopp's side threw at them.
The home team broke through two minutes before halftime when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burst to the byline and pulled back a cross to Wijnaldum who powered an angled header into the bottom corner.
There was little change to the pattern of the game after the interval with Liverpool peppering Oblak's goal but the Slovenian proved himself up to the task, denying efforts from Mohamed Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane while Andy Robertson headed against the bar.
Atletico thought they had grabbed a stoppage-time winner when Saul Niguez headed in a Renan Lodi cross but the effort was rightly flagged for offside, ensuring the game went to extra time.
It took just four minutes for Liverpool to take the lead in the tie with Firmino heading against the post and driving home the loose ball as Anfield got ready for a night of celebration.
Yet then it all went wrong for Klopp's side.
Goalkeeper Adrian, standing in for the injured Alisson Becker, passed the ball out straight to Joao Felix who fed Llorente and the substitute punished the Spanish keeper with a precise shot into the far corner.
Llorente produced a carbon-copy finish following good work on the counter from Morata to end Liverpool's hopes of defending their European crown.
Morata put the icing on the cake in the final moments with a cool finish after Liverpool had thrown all their players forward.
The pain of this exit will surely ease for Liverpool, who are 25 points clear in the Premier League and will soon win their first domestic league title for 30 years.
PSG banish last-16 demons in empty stadium
Paris St Germain put their Champions League last-16 traumas behind them as they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals, although no fans were in the stadium to witness the achievement.
Neymar and Juan Bernat scored before halftime to secure a 3-2 aggregate win for PSG after a game played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus, which has infected 2,281 people and killed 48 in France.
The result eased painful memories of 2017, when PSG were eliminated 6-5 on aggregate by Barcelona after letting slip a 4-0 advantage, and of last season when they lost to Manchester United on away goals after a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
The French champions reached the last eight for the first time since 2016 as Dortmund finished with 10 men following Emre Can’s sending-off in the dying minutes.
Over 3,000 ultra fans gathered near the Parc des Princes before kickoff after being granted authorisation by the police - demonstrations being considered an exemption to the ban of gatherings of more than 1,000 as French authorities try to contain the coronavirus, which has infected 2,281 people and killed 48.
They lit firework and their chants could be overheard in the stadium before, during, and after the game as the players went to the top of the Auteuil stand to cheer with them.
“Our only virus is Paris SG,” a banner in the empty arena read.
“It was a perfect game,” said centre back Marquinhos, who with Presnel Kimpembe marshalled the PSG defence.
“We now need to keep the same mindset for the remainder of the competition.”
PSG were without captain Thiago Silva, who had not fully recovered from a hamstring injury, while Kylian Mbappe started on the bench after suffering from a sore throat.
The French side dominated possession and had the first clear chance when Edinson Cavani’s cross shot from Di Maria’s through ball was deflected by keeper Roman Buerki.
Neymar put the hosts ahead in the 28th minute as he headed home Angel Di Maria’s free kick for his 35th goal in 57 matches, making his presence count after missing the return leg against United through injury last season.
Bernat doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime by flicking Sarabia’s attempt past Buerki.
PSG pressed high after the break while Erling Haaland, who scored a double in the first leg, never looked likely to add to his 10 Champions League goals this season.
Thorgan Hazard and Axel Witsel made way for Julian Brandt and Giovanni Reyna as Dortmund coach Lucien Favre looked to freshen up his attacking line and PSG were suddenly on the back foot.
A brawl erupted two minutes from time after Can fouled Neymar and pushed the Brazilian to the ground.
Can was sent off while Di Maria picked up a yellow card which means the Argentine will be suspended for the first leg of PSG’s quarter-final.