Xavi defeats Luis Enrique in part one of Champions League duel as Barcelona come from behind to beat PSG

Xavi defeats Luis Enrique in part one of Champions League duel as Barcelona come from behind to beat PSG

Barcelona came out on top in a topsy-turvy battle with Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

PSG fought back from Raphinha’s first-half strike to lead through quickfire goals from Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha. However, what looked like a famous night at Parc des Princes for Les Parisiens swung the way of the Spanish giants once again through Raphinha’s second before Andreas Christensen made it 3-2 just 13 minutes from time.

These two teams have shared some memorable knockout duels in past years, most notably ‘La Remontada’ as Barcelona scored a stoppage-time winner to down PSG 6-1 in 2017 before PSG’s 4-1 first-leg win four years later as they took revenge at the Camp Nou.

This tie showed signs of bursting into that sort of life in the early runnings on Wednesday night with the hosts threatening but rebuffed by Barcelona’s stout defending, which featured the impressive 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi.

PSG lacked creative spark on the pitch but not off it, with a fine pre-game tifo raised depicting a dual lightsaber-brandishing Yoda surrounded by the French club’s colours. Alas, it was initially their defence which showed all the plodding creakiness of the cane-wielding veteran without any of his trademark gravity-defying acrobatics.

First it was Gianluigi Donnarumma caught in no-man’s land as a corner was nodded goalwards by Robert Lewandowski, only for Nuno Mendes to clear off the line.

On 37 minutes, two PSG bodies on the goalline weren’t enough to deny Raphinha. Lewandowski glided past static markers in the centre circle before finding Lamine Yamal out wide and the 16-year-old’s outside-of-the-boot cross was spun Raphinha’s way by a soft Donnarumma parry before the Brazilian composed himself and fired home.

Before the game, PSG’s former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had joked that he embodied the Blaugrana DNA more than opposite number Xavi and he wrestled the game back his team’s way with a simple change at the break to prompt what proved only the first turnaround of the night.

It was the turn of the away defence to doze off this time after Dembele, another old Camp Nou favourite, shifted centrally with the introduction of Bradley Barcola. Within three minutes, he had picked up a loose ball in the box, cut onto his left foot and unleashed a rocket into the roof of the net.

Les Parisiens then led 2-1 as the clock hit 50 minutes when Vitinha escaped Sergi Roberto’s eye to latch onto Fabian Ruiz’s perfect through ball and rolled the ball into the net. Cue rapturous celebrations in the French capital.

The scoring didn’t look done there though as Lewandowski quickly skewed a header off-target from a prime position and Barcola clipped the crossbar for PSG.

Xavi then made a decisive intervention of his own, bringing the fit-again Pedri off the bench and within minutes the Spanish magician crafted an equaliser, lobbing the ball over the defence for Raphinha to finish with aplomb.

A trio of substitutes then proved the difference-makers for Barcelona, after Dembele hit the post down the other end. Joao Felix’s fine cross nearly reached Ferran Torres and the ensuing corner was nodded in by the unmarked Andreas Christensen to send Barcelona back to Spain with a narrow advantage for a second leg that promises to be every bit as memorable as the first.