BARCELONA needed a late Pedro equaliser to draw 1-1 with Paris St Germain in last night’s Champions League quarter-final, second leg and advance to the last four on away goals.
Scorers: Barca - Pedro 71; PSG - Pastore 50
Barcelona win on away goals, 3-3 on aggregate
The favourites started the match at the Nou Camp with Lionel Messi on the bench after he damaged a hamstring in last week’s 2-2 first-leg draw in Paris.
Without the World Player of the Year, Barca lacked cutting edge and PSG had much the better of the first half before Javier Pastore raced clear five minutes after the break and lifted the ball over Victor Valdes into the net.
Messi replaced Cesc Fabregas with half an hour left and was involved in the build-up to Pedro’s 71st-minute strike to make it 3-3 on aggregate as Barca secured a sixth straight semi-final appearance in Europe’s elite club competition.
“They played very well, with some great players. Like any game in the Champions League, but we are delighted to be in semis,” Pedro said. “Messi made a big effort to be with us. He’s a very important player for the team. He worked very hard this week and was able to help out the team when he came on.
“We want to thank him, and say congratulations for everything he did to get himself ready for the game and to help the team. He’s the number one. We felt his presence when he came on the pitch, he lifted us, and we got the result.”
The visitors made a lively start as Ezequiel Lavezzi latched onto a Sergio Busquets error and raced through the middle in the fourth minute but his control let him down and Valdes was able to clear. The Spain keeper was called on again in the 24th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Lavezzi clear and he saved well with an outstretched leg before palming a powerful Lucas header over the bar as PSG pressed for a goal. Barca were looking unusually ragged with the normally impeccable Busquets misplacing several passes and full-back Daniel Alves miscuing a couple of crosses.
Xavi flashed an early free kick wide and Pedro fired into the side netting in the 21st minute but otherwise the La Liga leaders were ineffective going forward.
After Pastore’s goal and the introduction of Messi the home side appeared to rediscover their urgency and close to 100,000 fans packed inside the giant arena did their best to lift the players. And Pedro rescued them with a clinical finish from the edge of the area.