UEFA Champions League: PSG beat Valencia 2-1
Valencia: Paris Saint-Germain edged towards the Champions League quarter-finals after a 2-1 victory against Valencia in the first leg of their round of 16 tie at the Mestalla on Tuesday, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic`s late dismissal took the shine off an otherwise excellent evening`s work.
A nightmare display from goalkeeper Vicente Guaita saw the hosts concede two eminently preventable goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore in the first half as Ernesto Valverde`s side, despite seeing the majority of the ball, failed to make many significant inroads in the attacking third.
PSG took further control of the game in the second half and in truth, should have won by a much larger margin after spurning a hatful of chances. After Adil Rami converted a potentially priceless stoppage-time goal, Ibrahimovic`s aberration, a silly foul on Andres Guardado, will mean he now serves a suspension.
Valverde fielded Jonas from the start on the left flank while for the visitors, Mamadou Sakho deputized for the injured Thiago Silva in defence, with January signing Lucas Moura making his Champions League debut ahead of Jeremy Menez.
And PSG were unlucky not to be ahead nine minutes in when the Brazilian cracked a long range effort off the inside of the post. But with their next attack, the Ligue 1 side would take the lead through a goal that owed as much to Lavezzi’s brilliance as it did to Guaita’s blunder.
The Argentine did fantastically well to play a one-two with Pastore and dribble past Ricardo Costa, but his shot from the right side, though powerful, should have been met by Guaita, instead of flying straight through his hands.
PSG were certainly the better side throughout the first half as Valencia, despite holding the majority of possession, could not make it count in the attacking third as they failed to seriously test Salvatore Sirigu.
Guaita was a bundle of nerves in the hosts’ goal, and did not look comfortable handling a curled effort from Lavezzi with 38 minutes gone. And moments before half-time, the Valencia keeper embarrassed himself with another howler.
Lucas beast Andres Guardado expertly on the flanks and cut back to Pastore at the top of the box. Again, Guaita should have at least made contact, but instead, let the ball ricochet through his legs and into the back of the net.
The chances continued to fall PSG’s way in the second half. Guaita’s poor parry saw Lavezzi miss from point blank range, before the Argentine again fluffed his lines from in close, firing straight into the Valencia keeper’s arms from Marco Veratti’s feed.
Ibrahimovic narrowly missed poking home a one-two with Lavezzi, and Clement Chantome had a goal ruled out for offside before finally, with the game entering its closing stages, Valencia managed their best chance.
Tino Costa’s diagonal ball picked out Nelson Valdez in the area, who did well to evade the attention of Alex, but blasted into the side netting from a position where he really should have hit the target.
But just when all seemed lost, Valencia surged back into the tie as Rami struck from Costa`s free-kick in injury time before, with one of the last kicks of the match, Ibrahimovic was given his marching orders for a poor challenge on Guardado, leaving all to play for in the second leg.