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During the 2017 semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s elite club football competition, Barcelona FC orchestrated one of the most sensational comeback to usurp a substantial lead by Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Coming into the second leg of the tie on 9 March 2017, Barcelona were 4-0 down on aggregate having lost by the same margin in Paris.
However, Barcelona were in sublime form and were able to win the game 6-1 to proceed into the quarterfinals 6-5 winners on aggregate. This was largely thanks to a flurry of goals in the dying minutes of the game, completing what is known as “Barcelona’s Miracle at Camp Nou.”
Buildup and Events of the Game
Barcelona are considered one of the biggest clubs in Europe and had been the most successful team in the Champions League having won four UCL trophies in the past ten years. They were holding champions this season but were experiencing a slump in form. PSG meanwhile were a rising club having invested hundreds of millions of dollars to revamp their team hence they had it all to prove in this tie.
The first leg was held at PSG’s home stadium two weeks before in France. Thanks to goals from Angel di Maria (two), Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani, the French club had looked to have secured their passage to the quarter finals. After all, no team in Champions League history had ever overcome a 4-0 deficit in the second leg at any knockout stage.
Despite possessing arguably the most lethal striking trio in Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, few fancied Barcelona capable of pulling off anything miraculous. Back at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, the Catalans went ahead early in the match through Luis Suarez, followed by an own goal by PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa. Messi then scored a 50th minute penalty to leave Barca needing just one goal to tie the aggregate scores. Suddenly the impossible looked achievable, but Cavanni deflated Barca’s hopes with a 62nd minute goal that left them needing to win the game by at least two goals.
In the 88th minute Neymar scored a sensational goal from a free-kick to revive Barca’s hopes. Then less than two minutes later, Suarez was fouled in the box though TV replays showed that the Uruguayan striker had simulated the foul. Neymar scored the controversial penalty to give Barcelona a 5-1 lead, aggregate scores now at 5-5. Still they were technically trailing because PSG had a goal away from home which carries more weight.
Barcelona pinned the Parisians in their own half sending wave after wave of attack. From another free kick in the 5th minute of added time, Neymar floated the ball into the box where defender Sergi Roberto volleyed it into the PSG net, with practically the last kick of the game. The stadium exploded into delirium as PSG players and travelling fans sank into despair.
Many people complained that Barcelona had been favored by the referees on a number of major decisions continuing a narrative of favoritism of certain clubs by UEFA. Barca’s fairytale would not continue for long however, as in the very next round they trailed 3-0 in the first leg against Juventus.
In the second leg they were unable to repeat their miracle, dropping out of the competition. After the season, PSG pulled off a revenge of sorts by prying away Barca star Neymar in a contentious deal though the moneyed Paris club had to part with nearly 300 million dollars for the heist.