Sabrina Delannoy's penalty and Irene Paredes' firm finish at a corner were more than enough for Paris Saint Germain as they completed the double over Barcelona in front of a record 19, 192 fans at the Parc des Princes to confirm their place in the UEFA Women's Champions League final.
Barca start bright
On the back foot from their first leg match and needing at least three goals, Barcelona started as positively as they could, keen to possess the ball and find a route forward; the ball, for the Catalans, was unfortunately sent long and high, route one oddly their first choice. The first real chance for the visitors came at their first corner, Miriam Dieguez’ rising header deflected out for a second corner, a third following immediately afterwards.
Though they should have been comfortable in the game, and able to lean back on a sterling home record in the competition, PSG looked nervy at the set-pieces, knowledge of how fast they fired them in past Munich last time at the Parc des Princes fresh in the memory.
Seeing a less of the ball than their visitors, PSG fell into a slightly more counter-attacking role, Cristiane able to scythe through the park with the ball on her toe. They away team for each four rounds of the Champions League this season, the match against Barca marked only the second time the Parisiens had returned home with an advantage. Their ties against LSK and Munich required the French side to attack from the off – PSG on the scoresheet in the fourth minute of both games.
Conversely carrying a three-goal advantage against BIIK-Kazygurt, PSG hadn’t found the back of the net until the 43 minute at the Charlety. A team with mixed results and performances, it wasn’t such a shock to see PSG looking a little dull after a composed and controlled first leg in Spain, 0-0 far from a worrying scoreline.
Some neat work from Ashley Lawrence saw the Canadian international cut a path through into the away box, her light footwork enough to create space to send in a devilish cross. A fingertip from Sandra Paños enough to divert the ball to the far side of the box, Marta Torrejon’s thigh able to send the ball out for a corner and away from Marie-Laure Delie. The move beginning to spell a chance in dominance, dark blue shirts getting forward and starting to swarm. Another cutting move saw Cristiane wriggling around in the box, a shimmy to get away from her marker followed by a low shot that was happily claimed by Paños.
PSG continue to grow
A last-second intervention from Gemma Gili saw the ball nibbled away from Delie before she could strike from close range following some smart work and a deft cross from Eve Perisset. The noisy crowd at the Parc des Princes doing all they could to get behind their team, any surge forward was met with a palpable rise in decibels, the football not quite deserving of the noise.
The hosts started the second-half brightly, willing to force the issue and put on a good show for the fans who continue to rock the stadium in Paris but there was a spark lacking, moves telegraphed and well dealt with. A splitting move ten minutes after the restart saw the most decisive moment as Cristiane burst into the box to receive a ball over the top, her intention to chip it over Paños as she steamed out of her goal.
The result was both Paños and Cristiane in a heap in the box, the keeper having caught the attacker late as the ball arced through the air before missing the target, Paños with a yellow for her troubles and the hosts with a penalty.
Able to send the keeper the wrong way, Sabrina Delannoy buried her spot kick deep in the right side of the net as the Parc des Princes exploded in noise, the hosts finally with a goal to show. Having been the team on top after the break the goal only gave the hosts more impetus, Veronica Boquete’s thunderbolt from outside the area was grabbed by Paños as she made a hanging save.
But there was little the keeper could do moments later as Perisset’s dinked free kick nicked off of Ruth Garcia as she came out to claim, the ball bouncing high over her diminutive statue before being emphatically thumped over the line by Irene Paredes.
The second goal rather took the stuffing out of Barcelona who had been doing well to keep PSG at bay, but hadn’t created a huge amount, the enormity of their task well understood before they made the trip to France. With the tie well over and both managers able to change personnel via their benches, Barca began to rally, looking for a conciliation to take home with them.
Lawrence and Delannoy found themselves under increasing amounts of pressure as their opposition finally looked to start playing to their strengths, neat passes punctuated with better control and dribbling. Yet the end product was still lacking – the home defence standing up well to the pressure.
As the game wore into its’ death throws, the spaces to continued to appear, both teams willing to work for the third goal but neither with the spark to grab a chance when it presented itself, the penultimate ball doing nothing to help.