We never gave up: Dembele

17 April,2024 07:15 AM IST |  Barcelona  |  AFP

PSG striker Ousmane says despite trailing 2-3 in first leg, team always believed they could beat Barcelona in return clash; Mbappe’s brace helps French giants rout Spaniards 4-1 to enter semis

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring against FC Barcelona at the Estadio Olimpico de Montjuic in Spain on Tuesday. Pic/Getty Images

Ousmane Dembele said there was never any doubt Paris Saint-Germain could overturn a first-leg deficit against Barcelona as the French champions won 4-1 in Spain on Tuesday to reach the Champions League semi-finals. Trailing 2-3 from last week's clash in Paris, Luis Enrique's PSG fell further behind in the tie when Raphinha turned in Lamine Yamal's cross in the 12th minute.

Araujo red-carded

But a red card for Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo was the turning point, with Dembele bringing PSG back into the quarter-final as he fired home shortly before half-time. Vitinha brought the visitors level on aggregate before Kylian Mbappe struck twice, converting a penalty and then applying the fatal blow a minute from time to complete a 6-4 aggregate victory.

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Ousmane Dembele

"Everyone believed we could do it, even though we lost 2-3 in the first leg. We didn't throw in the towel. We knew we would score goals here. The whole team did a great job," Dembele told Canal Plus. "We have done a lot of work tactically all week and the coach's tactics were perfect. We saw in the game, even though we lost the first goal, we didn't give up. We kept believing because we had to win the match."

It was the first time in club history PSG had won a Champions League tie after losing the first leg at home. Their reward will be a meeting with another of Dembele's former sides, Borussia Dortmund, who overcame Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate after winning 4-2 at home Tuesday.

‘Everyone was exceptional'

"It was a great effort. Everyone was exceptional throughout the whole game. I saw that Borussia Dortmund got through and there's another club I played for," said Dembele, who shrugged off a frosty reception in Barcelona. "I had a great evening. Being booed by the Barcelona fans is not going to affect me. I gave everything. I scored and won a penalty, so I am pleased with my performance."

Barca coach Xavi slams referee over Araujo red card

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez claimed the referee's decision to send Ronald Araujo off in their Champions League knock-out by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday was "unnecessary" and ended the club's hopes.

Xavi Hernandez

Araujo was dismissed in the 29th minute for pulling down Bradley Barcola on the edge of the box with Barcelona leading 1-0 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate. With Barcelona down to 10 men, PSG battled back and triumphed 4-1 at Montjuic, progressing 6-4 on aggregate.

"It's a shame that the work of a whole season ends here because of a refereeing decision. This dismissal [red card] is unnecessary," Xavi told Movistar. Xavi was sent off for a show of dissent on the sideline as Barcelona lost their heads in the second half, and he criticised Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs.

"The referee was very bad, I told him, he didn't understand the game," said the coach. Araujo's red card led Xavi to take off 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal, who created Barcelona's opening goal for Raphinha, with Inigo Martinez coming on to fill the hole in defence. "We're angry, the red card defines the tie," continued Xavi.

"We were well organised, for me it's too much to give a red card, from there it's another tie. We had doubts about whether to take off Lamine, he was doing well - that moment completely defined the tie."

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