Barcelona produced without doubt the greatest comeback in the history of football to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League with a startling 6-1 victory over a shell shocked Paris St Germain to win by 6 goals to 5.
The French team led 4-0 from the first leg and that meant if they scored an away goal at the Nou Camp Stadium then their Spanish opponents would require a ridiculous six goals to qualify to the next round.
And with two minutes remaining on the clock the French team were only losing 3-1 on the night meaning Barcelona were still losing by 5 goals to 3 on aggregate and still required 3 more goals and incredibly they got them thanks to a nail biting 5 minutes of injury time thanks to the super talents of Neymar.
Let’s not mince words, this was Roy Of The Rovers stuff, it was a fairy tale, beyond belief of even the most ardent Barca supporter. Probably only this Spanish team and possibly Real Madrid could turn around such a heavy first leg pummelling in such heroic style.
You know you are talking about something special when commentator Steve McManaman quips ‘This is the greatest game I have ever seen’ ably backed by fellow Liverpool legend Michael Owen who said ‘I saw the Germany Brazil world cup match in Brazil (Germany upset the hosts in the World Cup semi final by 7-1) and that was amazing but this is the greatest comeback in the history of the game of football.”
Even the hardly illuminating laid back Steven Gerrard said that it was even better than Liverpool’s comeback in Istanbul when they won the Champions League on penalties. “They (Barcelona) needed to get six in the end, we only needed three” to said referring to their 3-3 draw in 2005 when they came back from 3-0 down to take the game to extra time and they were then victorious on penalties.
It was without doubt one of the greatest football ties of all time. Neymar’s free kick and penalty followed by Sergi Roberto’s 95th-minute winner sealed victory on an incredible night.
Barcelona had led 2-0 at the break courtesy of Luis Suarez’s header after just three minutes and Layvin Kurzawa’s own goal. When Neymar fell over Thomas Meunier in the box and Lionel Messi converted the penalty just after half time expectations had risen that we were onto something really special however Edinson Cavani looked to have put that idea to bed when he drilled one into the back of the Barcelona net for PSG on 61 minutes and the quarter-finals looked beyond Barcelona.
Neymar curled an inch perfect free kick into the top corner before Suarez won a controversial penalty and gave it to the Brazilian to convert. Neymar coolly finished it and picked the ball out of the net himself and ran back to the centre circle, leaving Barca with one goal to find in injury time.
And Neymar, who delivered a stunning performance, turned provider for substitute Roberto, who poked home his first goal of the season as the Nou Camp turned into the mad hatters Christmas Party and I’m not talking about Luton Town.
The majority of the near 100,000 fans went wild at the final whistle with many in tears, many shouting, crying, screaming and letting off untold emotions. It really was a sight to behold. Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, who is leaving at the end of the season, celebrated with his players at the final whistle and surely if the Catalans can lift the trophy he will be egged on by the supporters to stay on.
Barca beat the previous best second-leg comeback in Champions League history, which was achieved by Deportivo La Coruna against reigning champions AC Milan in 2004.
Trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their quarter-final tie, Deportivo raced into a 3-0 lead in the return leg and, with 14 minutes remaining, clinched a 5-4 aggregate win when Fran volleyed in the Spanish side’s fourth goal of the night.
PSG stunned Luis Enrique’s men in the first leg as they completely outplayed the Spanish champions – 16 shots on goal with 10 on target as they inflicted a 4-0 defeat.
Angel di Maria, Cavani and Julian Draxler were in superb form as manager Unai Emery masterminded his first victory over Barca in 23 attempts.
But their attacking threat from three weeks ago was replaced by a nervous and clumsy defence as PSG looked resigned to a night of toil from the off.
The defence were a shambles – Marco Verratti and Marquinhos let the ball bounce for the first goal, Marquinhos who had a match to forget again failed to deal with the second, and Meunier got in the way of Neymar to concede a penalty for the third.
Cavani, in prolific goal scoring form, gave his side a hope of holding on in the 62nd-minute, but will inevitably face the flak after missing vital chances to put the tie to bed.
PSG have lost in the last eight in each of the past four years of the Champions League, but did not even make it that far this season thanks to Barcelona’s brilliance and in particular the stunning exploits of Man of the match Neymar who played like a man on a mission throughout.
Still with time slipping away and the clock on red, Neymar passed a superb ball into the box for Sergi Roberto to toe into the net and send his team into the quarter-finals.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique said after the match:
“It is a difficult night to explain with words. It was a horror movie, not a drama, with a Camp Nou that I have seen very few times as a player or coach.
“What defines this victory is the faith that the players and fans had.”
Paris St-Germain manager Unai Emery:
“The truth is we have let a huge opportunity get away and we are aware of that. In the last two minutes we lost everything we had recovered in the second-half. Barcelona are capable of this in their stadium. In the last few minutes they played all or nothing and they have beaten us.”
Anyone who saw this match will be talking about it for the next 30 years. Mission impossible became mission completed as we saw the greatest comeback in the history of the game by one of the greatest teams in Barcelona in World football.
As the great David Coleman would have said: Remarkable.