Football

PSG reach Champions League semi-finals after beating Bayern Munich

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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.

Hansi Flick’s team are out, and PSG have revenge following their 1-0 defeat in last season’s final in Lisbon.

The dream of winning a first European Cup remains alive for the Qatar-owned club and Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who had already eliminated Barcelona in the last 16, can now look forward to a semi-final showdown with 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.

The future of Flick will come back into focus, too, given his frosty relationship with the club’s sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic.

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

They were also without influential midfielder Leon Goretzka for this second leg, and they had next to no Champions League experience on their bench either.

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 throughout.

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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.

Neymar’s frustrating night

The Brazilian was in the mood but was left frustrated by a combination of Manuel Neuer and the frame of the goal in the first half.

Twice the Bayern goalkeeper produced saves to deny Neymar before the world’s most expensive player hit a superb shot off the angle of bar and far post in the 37th minute after Angel Di Maria’s free-kick was cleared to him.

On 39 minutes another breakaway finished with Mbappe squaring to Neymar, who this time saw his effort strike the base of the right-hand post.

Bayern could have been dead and buried, but within a minute of that they were in front on the night.

Thomas Mueller’s cushioned lay-off in the box set up David Alaba for a first-time shot that Keylor Navas saved. The ball looped up to Choupo-Moting and he headed in.

The Cameroon forward, who scored once in 10 Champions League appearances across two seasons at PSG, now had his second goal against his old club in this tie while standing in for Lewandowski.

Bayern could even have scored again before the break as a thunderous strike by Alaba was turned behind by Navas, keeping PSG ahead overall on away goals.

A goal for the home side would have calmed the nerves as they looked to avoid another dramatic exit from the Champions League like so many before over the last decade.

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Neymar stretched but just could not connect with Di Maria’s ball across goal at the start of the second half.

PSG lost left-back Abdou Diallo to injury and Bayern continued to push them back, accepting the risk of conceding as they went looking for a crucial second goal.

Mbappe had an effort disallowed for offside, while another Bayern goal never arrived, and the final whistle was met with loud roars of delight from the home bench.

(AFP)

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