Mental strength and solidarity key to PSG success
Paris: Mental strength and solidarity were the key ingredients as 10-man Paris St Germain booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-1 win against Olympiakos Piraeus on Wednesday.
A draw would have been enough for Laurent Blanc`s side to finish top of Group C, but they continued to push for the win after being pegged back to 1-1, despite having Marco Verratti sent off a minute into the second half.
"I would have preferred to play with 11 men. But the players showed solidarity and that`s an important quality to have," Blanc told Canal Plus.
"All great teams have this quality, it helps you go through tough moments."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic tapped in Gregory van der Wiel`s cross early in the match to put PSG ahead, but they soon realised it would not be plain sailing.
"We were much better than them in the first half but then we made things complicated for ourselves," said PSG midfielder Thiago Motta.
PSG were reduced to 10 men when Verratti was sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving the home side to defend their slender advantage for virtually the whole second half.
Thanks to the composure of Thiago Silva and Alex at the heart of the defence, they held out until the 81st minute when Kostas Manolas poked the ball home for the visitors.
"Even with 10 men, we continued to go for it", said PSG left back Maxwell.
Their attacking intent was rewarded in the last minute when striker Edinson Cavani collected Adrien Rabiot`s through ball and converted with a low shot across goal to move them on to 13 points with one game to play.
The win also extended PSG`s unbeaten run in all competitions to 35 games.
"We`re happy to be qualified that`s the most important but we also showed some mental strength. We are a team with great character," Maxwell added.
"We also won with our heart, it`s important to show such character."
Second-placed Olympiakos and third-placed Benfica, both on seven points, will battle it out for the second qualifying spot when the Greeks host Anderlecht and the Portuguese side welcome PSG in the final round of group matches.
Blanc explained that he made a tactical switch in the second half because Thiago Silva told him they were being overrun in defence.
"After Verratti`s exclusion we still played with two forwards, Ibra and Cavani and he (Thiago Silva) felt they were suffering at the back so we corrected it with Cavani being moved to the left side of the midfield," said Blanc.
"It`s a good thing that the players can be part of the decision making. They can be right sometimes."