Rami strike halves PSG advantage
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Valencia CF 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain FC
A late Adil Rami goal has given Valencia hope for the second leg after all had seemed lost following efforts from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore.
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Paris Saint-Germain FC took a firm grip on this UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie with an away victory against Valencia CF.
First-half goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore were no more than Carlo Ancelotti's team deserved for a vivacious, confident performance, but Adil Rami clipped in a late consolation to give the Liga side hope going into the return leg on 6 March.
Mounting a fightback at the Parc des Princes looks a daunting task for the Blanquinegros, yet PSG will be without Zlatan Ibrahimović – sent off for an added-time challenge on Andrés Guardado – and Marco Verratti, who was booked in the first period.
It was rare when the visitors did not appear quicker, firmer, more full of ideas and brimming with belief in comparison with Valencia. Ernesto Valverde will be reassured that his team probed and pressed to try and haul their way back into the contest. Particularly through Guardado, used as a flying wing back down the left, Valencia sought to pinpoint their leader, Roberto Soldado, but they had reckoned without Mamadou Sakho. Block after block from the defender dulled Valencia's cutting edge.
Meanwhile, Lucas, Pastore and Lavezzi buzzed with energy. The first goal, after ten minutes, had a massive impact. Lucas had already cracked a fizzing drive off a post by the time Pastore's perfect wall-pass reconnected with Lavezzi and the Argentinian international dispatched the ball past Vicente Guaita. He could easily have had another from a Pastore cut-back, but Valencia's overworked goalkeeper managed a low save.
Before the advantage was increased Lucas gave another clear indication that this was PSG's night. Picking up a rebound near the edge of his own penalty area following a fierce Jonas shot, he outsprinted three Valencia players before forcing a good stop from Guaita.
Then, as half-time approached, another classy strike sucked the wind out of Valencia's sails. Again Lucas was instrumental. He twisted and turned Guardado and centred. Rami anticipated incorrectly, stepping the wrong way; Ricardo Costa and Daniel Parejo left too much space and Pastore stood one pace back to score with venom.
The introduction of Sergio Canales and Nelson Valdez in the second half added some invention and energy but, again, the French league leaders imposed themselves. Lavezzi sliced wide a clear chance, chipped the ball into Guaita's hands moments later in a one-on-one situation, and then interchanged passes with Ibrahimović to send the Sweden captain in on goal – but to no avail.
A third goal was merited, but in the last seconds Tino Costa's deep free-kick was volleyed in by Rami and during the tumultuous seconds that followed Ibrahimović was dismissed.