Blaise Matuidi's last-gasp equaliser clinched a draw for Paris Saint-Germain FC at the end of a pulsating UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against FC Barcelona.
Tito Vilanova's team thought they had won the game when Xavi Hernández restored their lead with an ice-cool 89th-minute penalty, but the French outfit kept on battling and drew level again in added time as Matuidi latched onto Zlatan Ibrahimović's lay-off to score left-footed. Lionel Messi had opened the scoring on 38 minutes before departing injured, only for Ibrahimović to equalise 11 minutes from time and set up a grandstand finish.
Looking to emulate their predecessors – who defeated Barcelona to reach the semi-finals in 1995 – Carlo Ancelotti's charges made a promising start. Indeed, they nearly went ahead inside five minutes when Ezequiel Lavezzi was first to Javier Pastore's chest-down and jinked past Gerard Piqué, only to see his shot come back off the post.
Víctor Valdés saved Pastore's long-range effort, then pushed away an Ibrahimović free-kick as the Ligue 1 leaders continued to push. The Swedish international had another chance after being released by the rampaging Lucas on 26 minutes, but he fired wide when well placed.
For all PSG's enterprise, they failed to find the killer touch before the break and were punished by Messi. After Alex nodded clear a corner, Daniel Alves's superb pass over the top picked out the Argentinian's run. It was the Catalan side's first clear opportunity and Messi made no mistake, rifling a brilliant first-time strike across Salvatore Sirigu and inside the far post.
The forward's eighth goal in this season's competition took him joint-third in the all-time list, level with Andriy Shevchenko on 59. A hamstring injury prevented Messi coming out for the restart, putting his hopes of appearing in the return leg in doubt, but the four-time champions remained in the ascendancy, Alexis Sánchez shooting at Sirigu, before both Alves and Xavi went close from direct free-kicks.
Ancelotti sent on Jérémy Ménez, Marco Verratti and Kevin Gameiro, and the changes gave the Parisians a second wind. Ibrahimović was denied by Valdés from point-blank range after pouncing on Gameiro's lay-off – but the strapping centre-forward scored against his former team moments later, thrusting in from close proximity after Thiago Silva had headed Maxwell's free-kick against the post.
There would be more late drama. First Alexis Sánchez was felled by Sirigu, enabling Xavi to send the Italian the wrong way from the spot, then Matuidi struck in the 94th minute. The PSG midfielder will be suspended for the second leg on 10 April – along with Barcelona's Javier Mascherano – after being booked, yet his goal has given PSG a fighting chance.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.