x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Champions League: Valencia 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2

PSG will take a narrow lead back to France for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but threatened to implode in the dying minutes of the match as Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw red.

PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sent off against Valencia.
PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sent off against Valencia.

Carlo Ancelotti said he did not understand why Zlatan Ibrahimovich had been sent off in Paris Saint Germain's 2-1 win over Valencia after a dramatic night in the Mestalla.

The Swede was shown the red card after aiming a stamp on Andres Guardado in the dying minutes of the game, after Adil Rami had found the net with a last-gasp goal to keep Valencia in the tie.

Ibrahimovic will now miss their Champions League last-16 second leg at the Parc des Princes next month, but the PSG coach was unhappy with the referee.

"Ibrahimovic did not deserve the red card," he said after the game. "I don't understand the decision."

"We played well and had chances to score more goals," added the Italian.

"It was a good team performance, but this was just the first leg. There is still the return to come."

PSG's late implosion took the shine off an otherwise impressive performance by Ancelotti's troops.

Certainly the watching David Beckham, who recently joined PSG on a five-month deal but was not in the squad today due to a lack of match fitness, will have been encouraged by what he saw.

However, that Lucas Moura played such an influential role for the Parisians will not have been lost on the 37-year-old, with the Brazilian's pace and trickery down the right channel not something the set-piece maestro can realistically expect to replicate.

Lucas was a thorn in Valencia's side in the opening period and had the first chance on nine minutes when he latched on to the ball after Ibrahimovic's run was halted and crashed an effort against the post.

PSG did not have long to dwell on that miss, however, as they took the lead 60 seconds later.

Ezequiel Lavezzi started and finished the move, exchanging passes with Javier Pastore on the edge of the area and advancing beyond the lunging challenge of Ricardo Costa before crashing a powerful finish beyond Vicente Guaita, who should perhaps have done better.

Guardado flashed an effort over the bar as Valencia went in search of the leveller, but it was PSG who looked most likely to add to the scoring, with Lucas and Lavezzi bringing saves from Guaita.

PSG's second goal arrived two minutes before the break, but again the Valencia goalkeeper will feel he should have done better.

Lucas, having impressed with a couple of surging runs from his own half, gave a demonstration of what he can deliver in the final third as he beat two men on the by-line before running into the area and pulling the ball back for Pastore, whose first-time finish went through the legs of Guaita.

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde shuffled his back at the interval, with striker Nelson Valdez and attacking midfielder Sergio Canales entering the action for Ever Banega and Jonas.

Valdez almost made an immediate impression when his back header from a corner was tipped over by Salvatore Sirigu under pressure from Roberto Soldado.

Valdez passed up a glorious chance to get Valencia back into the contest when he stole in ahead of Alex to reach another lofted pass by Costa, but the striker shanked his left-footed finish into the side-netting.

Costa's powerful free kick drew a good parry from Sirigu in the 87th minute, but the PSG goalkeeper was culpable for Valencia's late reply, which gives Valverde's men huge hope ahead of the return.

Costa created the chance with a chipped free kick over the top of the Valencia defence, although as the ball floated into the six-yard box the goalkeeper should have come to claim.

Instead, Sirigu stayed rooted to his line, leaving Rami unchallenged as he cleverly steered the ball into the net."

Despite the ending, for much of the evening this was a classic away European performance from Ancelotti's side, who was pleased with the performance..

"We played well and had chances to score more goals," added the Italian.

"It was a good team performance, but this was just the first leg. There is still the return to come."

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde said: "They were very strong. Every counter-attack they had was very dangerous.

"We managed to get a late goal, which means we still have a chance, but we must take into account the fact they have some extraordinary players."


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