PARIS — Cristiano Ronaldo punished Paris Saint-Germain’s slack defending once again, scoring a powerful second-half header as Real Madrid cruised into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 2-1 win on Tuesday.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, PSG’s fragile defence crumbled and its attack offered little threat without the injured Neymar. The biggest bang from this PSG side was from the fireworks constantly let off by a section of fans behind one goal.
Edinson Cavani’s close-range goal gave PSG some hope with 20 minutes left. But with midfielder Marco Verratti already sent off, scoring two more to force extra time was beyond a lacklustre PSG side.
Instead, midfielder Casemiro’s deflected shot looped past stranded goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 80th to make it 5-2 on aggregate. He was gifted the ball after midfielder Adrien Rabiot dealt poorly with Lucas Vazquez’s cross.
To compound a miserable night for PSG fans, who so badly want to believe this side can conquer Europe, Verratti showed terrible composure to in getting sent off midway through the second half. He got a second yellow card, having protested vehemently with referee Felix Brych after not getting a free kick his way.
Ronaldo had already done his usual damage.
The Champions League’s all-time leading scorer was given far too much space and leapt triumphantly to beat goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a downward header in the 51st minute. It took his tournament-leading tally to 12, including two in the first leg.
After a slow start this season, Ronaldo is hitting top form at a crucial time for a Madrid side looking to win the competition for the third straight time and 13th overall. He has scored in nine Champions League games in a row, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record.
This was a huge test for a PSG side desperate to prove it belongs among Europe’s elite, especially after spectacularly failing last year — becoming the first team eliminated after winning the first leg 4-0. Barcelona won the return 6-1.
This time, there was simply not enough belief shown and too many sloppy mistakes.
In the night’s other match, five-time champion Liverpool eased into the last eight, drawing 0-0 at home to two-time winner Porto after winning the away …read more