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PSG knocks holder Bayern out of Champions League to reach semifinals

KYLIAN Mbappé and Paris St.-Germain reached the Champions League semifinals after defeating holder Bayern Munich. — PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN ACADEMY GERMANY FB PAGE

PARIS — Paris St.-Germain (PSG) reached the Champions League semifinals despite a 1-0 home defeat by holder Bayern Munich on Tuesday as it progressed on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate result in a thriller that was on a knife edge until the final whistle.

Bayern striker Eric Choupo-Moting scored the only goal before the interval, but it was not enough to overturn the German side’s 3-2 loss in last week’s first leg.

Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG side, which struggled at times in Munich, had the clearest chances but lacked efficiency, with Neymar hitting the woodwork twice and Kylian Mbappé’s speed proving tough to handle but with no end product.

PSG kept its composure in a nerve-wrecking finale to book a last-four spot against Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund, which play on Wednesday, as it aims to reach the final for the second year in a row in its third semifinal appearance.

Bayern eventually paid for the absence of injured talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski and forward Serge Gnabry, who had tested positive for the coronavirus, while PSG managed to live without captain Marquinhos and influential midfielder Marco Verrati.

“Now, we’re in the semifinals and we can dream big,” said Neymar.

Pochettino added: “We were very focused. It was a really tough match — I’m really happy because the players deserve big credit. To win and qualify for the semifinals is an amazing moment for us.”

PSG’s home form has been a cause for concern this season, but this time, it did not freeze and proved extremely dangerous on the break throughout the match.

Without the injured Marquinhos, Danilo started alongside Presnel Kimpembe in central defense for the French champion while Bayern was also without Leon Goretzka in the midfield.

Bayern applied the pressure early on, but PSG threatened on the counter with Mbappé and Neymar having the early chances in an error-strewn start.

The visitors had their first attempt in the 25th minute when Leroy Sane’s curled short from outside the box went just wide.

PSG came then close on a quick break as Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer denied Neymar in a one-on-one after the Brazilian had been found unmarked by Mbappé.

Neymar was at it again three times in a handful of minutes with a powerful shot that Neuer deflected onto his post, a superb curled effort that crashed against the bar and another attempt that hit the post after he was played through by Mbappé.

But Bayern then went in front as Choupo-Moting headed home after PSG keeper Keylor Navas deflected David Alaba’s shot into the path of the former PSG player, giving the German champions the lead on the night five minutes before the break.

PSG went close again early in the second half when the excellent Ángel Di Maria controlled Mbappé’s cross and sent the ball past a flying Neuer across the goal only for Neymar’s stretch to come up inches short as he tried to slide it home.

Mbappé thought he had equalized in the 78th minute after being played through by Neymar from just inside Bayern’s half, but a VAR review confirmed Italian referee Daniele Orsato’s decision to rule it out for offside.

Flick’s team created danger in the box repeatedly in the closing stages, but the home defense held firm as PSG avenged last year’s 1-0 final defeat by Bayern. — Reuters

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