Paris Saint-Germain FC might be struggling in France's Ligue 1, but it took an 89th-minute penalty from SL Benfica captain Simão to end their brave resistance and send the Portuguese club into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
Trailing 2-1 from last week's Round of 16 first leg in Paris, Benfica made a swift response tonight with goals from Simão and Petit. However, Pauleta's strike for PSG on his return to Portugal threatened to take the tie into extra time, until Simão's late intervention from the spot.
Going to plan
The evening certainly started according to script for Fernando Santos's men as Simão slid the ball under PSG keeper Mickaël Landreau on 12 minutes. Things got even better when, after Fabrizio Miccoli had rattled the crossbar and Georgios Karagounis the post via the fingertips of Landreau, Petit made it 2-0 after 27 minutes. As the midfielder approached the opposition area with centre-back David Rozehnal backing off, he chipped the visiting custodian and saw his effort bounce in off the bar.
However, Benfica's overall advantage lasted only five minutes before former Portugal forward Pauleta converted Jérôme Rothen's cross with a header under keeper Moretto. PSG could even have gone in level at half-time but Pauleta, Amara Diané and Sammy Traoré missed their opportunities. The rising tension in the second half resulted in a more restrained passage of play, although Benfica carried the greater threat.
Miccoli drove straight at Landreau, then Simão blazed over with the clock ticking down. Yet he got a second chance following Youssuf Mulumbu's foul on Léo. Mulumbu received a second yellow card but the greater punishment was dealt to PSG by Simão's slammed penalty past Landreau. Paul Le Guen's team are left with a relegation battle to fight while Benfica march on to the quarter-finals.