Neymar scored twice as Barcelona cruised into the last four of the Champions League for a seventh time in eight seasons, thanks to a 2-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou that completed a convincing 5-1 aggregate win.
Barcelona suffered a rare early failure when bowing out at the quarterfinal stage a year ago, but that fate never looked likely to befall them this time around after securing a 3-1 win in the French Capital a week ago. After Luis Suarez's double in the first leg, on Tuesday it was another of Barcelona’s thrilling front three, Neymar, who inflicted the damage with two first-half goals.
Only once in the 60-year history of the Europe’s premier competition had a team come back from a two-goal deficit after a first leg at home. And it was always hugely unlikely that this PSG side would become the second side to achieve the feat, especially against a Barcelona team in such superb form. For PSG, though, the disappointment will be sizable, and the repercussions for manager Laurent Blanc could yet prove just as significant. Still battling it out for a championship in a domestic league they are expected to dominate, PSG have now exited the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage for the third consecutive season. Just as two seasons ago, Barcelona have been their conquerors, showing them what it takes to make it to Europe’s true elite.
After a season away from the real business end of the Champions League, Barcelona are back there once more and continuing to look like they will take some stopping en route to this year’s climax in Berlin. PSG welcomed former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and influential midfielder Marco Verratti back from suspension, but the tie was effectively ended as any kind of contest just 14 minutes in.
Andres Iniesta, who has struggled to reproduce his brilliant best over the past season or two, gave a stunning reminder of his quality to evade the challenge of three PSG players in the center of the pitch before gliding forward through the middle. As is his custom, the World Cup winner produced the perfect pass at the end of his run to find Neymar, who coolly rounded Salvatore Sirigu in the PSG goal and put Barcelona in front on the night.
Perhaps often not receiving the praise of his forward colleagues Suarez and Lionel Messi, the Brazilian got his 30th goal of what has been a highly impressive season with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. As with Suarez’s goals in the first leg, Neymar’s compatriot David Luiz was hugely culpable. From Dani Alves’ left-footed cross, the world’s most expensive defender completely lost track of what was behind him, allowing Neymar a free header into the net from six yards out.
In the second half Verratti should have done better with a chance that fell his way just inside the box, while Ibrahimovic tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen. But their improved showing after the interval was far too little far too late for PSG as Barcelona comfortably march on.