Take a bow, Barcelona. Despite being down 4-0 after the first leg of their Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain, and despite being down 5-3 on aggregate in the 87th minute of the second leg, the Catalan giants are advancing to the quarterfinals of the competition by way of a 6-1 victory at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. While it should surprise no one that it was one of their Latino attackers that saved their skin, it being Neymar and not Lionel Messi might raise some eyebrows.
It started as well for Barcelona as anyone could have hoped for, as Luis Suarez put away a loose ball in the box 3 minutes in. A 40th minute own goal by PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa and a Lionel Messi penalty on the other side of halftime gave the blaugrana hope, but it looked like it was not meant to be. 12 minutes later, Edinson Cavani put away a beautiful volley to make 3-1 on the night, and more importantly, to give the French side an away goal. Despite multiple Barcelona attacks and some incisive counterattacking from PSG, the score would stay 3-1 until the 87th minute, when Neymar was fouled outside the Paris box. Then, all hell broke loose.
Neymar has been criticized since moving to Barcelona for his sometimes selfish tendencies, his impetuousness, and his exaggerated falling after fouls, but one thing that has never been questioned is his transcendent skill. Wednesday’s game is now his masterpiece. After the aforementioned foul, the Brazilian talisman curled a beauty of a free kick in to give Barca fans some last gasp hope, and a soft penalty call against PSG’s Marquinhos built the drama to a thundering level. Neymar took the ensuing spot kick, cooly finishing as Paris goalie Kevin Trapp guessed the wrong way.
Even then, with the aggregate score tied at 5, no one could have truly expected Barcelona to nip one more goal and advance. No one…except Neymar.
With that assist and Sergi Roberto’s flawless finish, Barcelona completed the biggest comeback in Champions League history, and one of the greatest moments in club football history. As you can probably guess, Twitter lost its mind as soon as Roberto’s lunging stab kicked the ball into the net: