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PSG slump again in Champions League
Paris Saint-Germain slithered out of the Uefa Champions League on Wednesday night following a 2-1 defeat at home to holders Real Madrid. The last 16 tie finished 5-2 on aggregate to the Spaniards who last May became the first club to defend the trophy since the competition changed format in 1992.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on 14 February, Madrid effectively killed off the tie when Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 51st minute. It was his 12th goal in the competition this season.
Though Edinson Cavani levelled shortly after the dismissal of Marco Verrati for two bookable offences to spark hopes of a dramatic comeback, PSG were eventually dispatched when Casemiro struck Madrid's second in the 80th minute.
"We're disappointed because we thought we could go through," said veteran midfielder Thiago Motta. "Madrid were better than us and from what we've done in previous matches shows that we could have done something against Madrid because we have the capabilities."
Yellow card for Verrati
Keeping 11 men on the pitch might have helped.
Verrati picked up his first yellow card midway through the first half for a foul on Casemiro. He got his marching orders after 65 minutes when he was booked for dissent.
At that point PSG needed three goals to take the match into extra time. They never materialised.
Following the defeat, the spotlight will turn on PSG boss Unai Emery and the players perceived to be underperforming.
"This is not the time to panic," said PSG defender Marquinhos. "The Champions League is for big players and big teams. I think we just need a bit of time to grow together and to get the experience to win these types of games.
"We've got to go away and find out what went wrong. It's not the time to change things. We've got to stay together otherwise it will always be the same old story."
Qatar wants results
Change will be likely.
PSG's Qatari backers are impatient for Champions League glory and invested nearly 400 million euros last summer to acquire the services of Neymar from Barcelona and Kylian Mbappé from Monaco.
Since QSI bought the club in 2011, PSG have never progressed past the last eight of European club football's most prestigious competition.
Neymar was injured for the second leg clash and Mbappe was effectively muzzled by a Madrid rearguard that has been leaking goals in La Liga to lie third 15 points behind pacesetters Barcelona with 11 games to play.
Madrid coach Zinédine Zidane had been under fire in the prelude to the last 16 tie because of his side's lacklustre form in the Spanish top flight.
"We played a good match," said the Frenchman. "It wasn't easy to come to Paris and play but that's what we did. We believed in what we could do. If PSG weren't so good tonight, it's perhaps because we were very good."