Thursday, 5 August, 2021
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SPORTS

PSG, Chelsea reach CL semis despite second-leg defeat



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AFP
Paris, Apr. 15 : Paris Saint-Germain knocked holders Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Tuesday despite Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scoring against his old club as a 1-0 defeat in the second leg at the Parc des Princes could not prevent the French giants from winning a tremendous quarter-final tie on away goals.

Neymar twice hit the woodwork for PSG in the first half and Choupo-Moting then put Bayern in front five minutes before the break.

But the reigning European champions could not get the second goal they needed after losing 3-2 at home in the first leg last week.

PSG have revenge following their 1-0 defeat in last season’s final in Lisbon, and the dream of winning a first European Cup remains alive for the Qatar-owned club.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who had already eliminated Barcelona in the last 16, can now look forward to a semi-final against Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern will have to console themselves with trying to win a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title, and will wonder what might have been had the prolific Robert Lewandowski, or Serge Gnabry, been available for the two legs of this tie.

Bayern certainly played their part in an epic tie that will live long in the memory and deserved to be played before a full house both in Munich and here.

For all their injuries, their starting line-up was still impressive, and with Thomas Mueller leading from the front and co-ordinating their suffocating press, Bayern took the game to their hosts.

That suited PSG, who have produced their best performances this season away from home and could look to hit the Germans on the break with the devastating pace of Kylian Mbappe.

The Parisians, to be fair, were without two huge players of their own in captain Marquinhos and playmaker Marco Verratti, but they did have Mbappe and Neymar.

Chelsea into semis
Thomas Tuchel urged his young Chelsea team to embrace their Champions League “adventure” after they reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2014 despite a 1-0 defeat against Porto in Tuesday’s quarter-final second leg.

Tuchel’s side will play Real Madrid or Liverpool for a place in the final after producing a masterclass in game management to win 2-1 on aggregate in Seville.

Chelsea smothered Porto with an intelligent defensive approach until Mehdi Taremi’s stunning bicycle kick in the last minute of stoppage time.

That sublime strike was out of character with the rest of Porto’s display as they laboured to overturn the 2-0 first-leg deficit.

“Mason scored his first goal in the competition in the first leg. When Mbappe scores or Salah scores or Benzema scores, it is their 100th goal or their 50th goal in the competition,” Tuchel said.

“We arrive with a very young team. They can fight and run and hang in there. We have to take it like an adventure for them. It is a big step.

“You see when Chelsea were last in the semi-finals. We are not used to being there. It’s a big achievement.”

Tuchel had admitted this week was a make or break period for Chelsea.

They passed the first test and can now focus on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Premier League leaders Manchester City at Wembley before returning to the Champions League trail.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy gifted Porto a golden opportunity for a priceless early goal when his miscued pass went straight to Jesus Corona inside the penalty area.

But Corona couldn’t keep his composure and Jorginho did enough to ensure the shot flashed wide.

Corona’s profligacy let Porto down again when he lashed hurriedly over from 12 yards after Ben Chilwell misjudged Otavio’s high ball.

Taremi’s eye-catching strike with seconds left came far too late for a dramatic finale, with tempers flaring in a heated exchange involving Rudiger and several Porto players after the final whistle.