MUNICH: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored against his former club as Bayern Munich ended the Champions League hopes of Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, beating the French club 2-0 in their last-16 second leg to reach the quarter-finals. Choupo-Moting, who featured for PSG in their 1-0 Champions League final loss to Bayern in Lisbon in 2020, sidefooted the ball home after Thomas Mueller dispossessed Marco Verratti inside his own penalty area. Substitute Serge Gnabry scored in the 89th minute to wrap up a 3-0 aggregate victory for the six-time European champions.
Bayern reached the last eight for the 13th time in 15 years, while PSG will need to wait at least another season to lift the coveted trophy for the first time. Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann told DAZN his side “needed the crowd” to help them past PSG’s “brutal quality” in the opening half. “In the second half we were much better than our opponents and deserved to win.” Bayern were indebted to a fine goalline clearance by Matthijs de Ligt in the first period but were otherwise largely untroubled as Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi offered little.
“It worked, you need to say honestly that in a football game you need to have luck on your side,” said captain Mueller. “If that became a 1-0, you don’t know how the team would react.” The Qatari-owned French champions’ lack of squad depth was highlighted, despite the return to full fitness of Mbappe after he was limited to a substitute appearance in PSG’s 1-0 first-leg defeat. Neymar is set to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, while they lost defenders Marquinhos and Nordi Mukiele to injuries during this game.
Coach Christophe Galtier lamented PSG’s failure to “make the most of our chances” and conceding “a really stupid goal” through Verratti’s error. “There is frustration and disappointment in the dressing room,” he said. “We can’t repeat the match, we have to look ahead.” The best chance of a tight opening half fell to Paris midfielder Vitinha, who won the ball when Bayern goalkeeper Yann Sommer attempted to dribble out of a busy penalty area.
Vitinha was presented with an empty net, but his rolled effort allowed De Ligt to clear the ball off the line. “It’s incredible how much desire he has to defend,” Nagelsmann said of De Ligt. “Nine out of 10 defenders in the world would have given up.” PSG lost captain Marquinhos to a rib problem 10 minutes before the break. His replacement Mukiele, just back from an Achilles injury, didn’t reappear after the interval, leaving Galtier to introduce 17-year-old centre-back El Chadaille Bitshiabu for the second half.
Bayern start second half quickly
Bayern roared out of the blocks after half-time, but PSG were let off by the clumsy feet of Choupo-Moting, who tripped before shooting and then stood in the way of a goal-bound effort from Joshua Kimmich. The Cameroon striker looked to have redeemed himself in the 52nd minute, but his header from a curling Jamal Musiala cross was chalked off for offside against Mueller. The Bayern stalwart appeared to not have touched the ball before it nestled in the net, but was adjudged to have been interfering with play. Bayern continued to push and PSG’s dam broke on 61 minutes, with Choupo-Moting doing the damage.
Mueller robbed the ungainly Verratti in the box, clipped the ball to Leon Goretzka, who squared for Choupo-Moting to double his side’s two-legged advantage. PSG centre-back Sergio Ramos had a chance to equalise just four minutes later, but his powerful header was brilliantly palmed away by Sommer. With Mbappe and Messi experiencing off nights, Gnabry put the result beyond doubt, racing onto Joao Cancelo’s pass before firing into the far corner left-footed. Sadio Mane looked to have scored a third for the home side in injury time, but his effort was ruled out for offside. – AFP