Goals from Marquinhos and Ezequiel Lavezzi saw Paris Saint-Germain cruise into the last eight of the Champions League for the second-straight season after sealing a 6-1 aggregate win over Bayer Leverkusen.
An early header from Sidney Sam briefly brought some intrigue to the tie following PSG’s dominant 4-0 win in Germany three weeks ago. But after Marquinhos quickly headed in an equalizer and Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes then saw his penalty saved by Salvatore Sirigu the tie was effectively over. Lavezzi’s strike in the second half only emphasized the gulf in quality between the teams.
Still, Leverkusen can at least take solace from having given a better account of themselves than in the first match between the teams. And the side third in the Bundesliga gave their opponents something to think about when they went ahead in just the sixth minute. Italian full-back Giulio Donati produced a wonderful side-footed cross and Sam got up at the back post six yards out to direct a header past Salvatore Sirigu.
Another goal at that point and things would certainly have got interesting. But Leverkusen’s lead on the night lasted only seven minutes. And the goal they conceded was frustratingly simple from the point of view of Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia. Yohan Cabaye sent in a corner from the right and young Brazilian defender Marquinhos rose highest in a pack of players in the center of the box and his forceful header went in off the despairing glove of Bernd Leno.
The home side then could have increased their aggregate advantage but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s finishing was unusually found wanting with a dink over Leno that came back off the crossbar. Leverkusen should have taken advantage of that missed opportunity to reduce their arrears once more in the 28th minute. Christophe Jallet’s tug back on the shirt of striker Eren Derdiyok was blatant and the referee duly punished it by pointing to the spot. But Rolfes’s left-footed strike lacked the necessary power or direction and Sirigu guessed right before parrying the ball to safety.
That was to prove the last hope for Leverkusen. Eight minutes into the second half, left-back Lucas Digne pulled the ball back to the near post and Lavezzi fired crisply first time low past Leno. Leverkusen's night took a further turn for the worse when midfielder Emre Can was shown a second yellow card for a dive. And, although Ibrahimovic’s misfiring night continued when he skied a chance under pressure, PSG were safely through and looking equipped to pose a real threat in the Champions League’s latter stages.