Ahead of Wednesday night’s champions league second leg tie at the Nou Camp, a Barcelona comeback was deemed probable but most likely impossible, as the Spanish giants aimed to be the first team in the competition’s history to overturn a 4-goal first leg deficit.
Barcelona made the impossible possible, as they recorded arguably the greatest comeback in European football history.
Neymar and Co. hammered Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 with three goals coming in the last seven minutes of the game.
Luis Suarez began the scoring in the third minute of the game when he flicked a header over PSG’s goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
The second goal came five minutes before the break via a Layvin Kurzawa own goal after Iniesta back-heeled the ball from the byline into the six-yard box.
Nou Camp was in full voice as the half-time whistle was blown with a Barcelona comeback looking very possible.
Five minutes after the restart, the noise in the stadium reached deafening levels as Thomas Meunier dived head-first to stop Neymar from getting around him in the penalty area leading to the Brazilian falling.
The Barcelona players and supporters were convinced they had a penalty but the referee disagreed. Suarez and a few others players rushed to the official behind the goal who convinced the referee to make the decision.
The German referee immediately pointed to the spot to the disgust of the Parisians. Messi dispatched the spot kick to make things very awkward for the visitors.
PSG picked themselves up and went on the search of a much needed away goal which they almost got immediately after Edinson Cavani hit the post from Meunier’s cross.
You could feel the relief around the stadium as the Uruguayan missed his chance and a possible Hollywood script being brought to life. That feeling was, however, buried with an improbable twist to the script delivered a few minutes later as Cavani buried a shot into the roof of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s net with the outside of his foot.
The Parisians celebrated widely as Barca now needed to score three more goals to get into the quarter-finals.
Former Real Madrid player and first leg hero Angel Di Maria who had just been introduced into the game fluffed a chance to make the score 3-2 on the night although a tackle from Javier Mascherano put him off. The Argentine defender could have seen a red card on another day for the tackle on his compatriot as he was the last man and stopped a goalscoring opportunity.
Barca continued to look for more goals, but you sensed the damage was now insurmountable, or so it seemed.
Neymar led the charge, curling a perfect free-kick past Trapp to make it 4-1 on the night with just two minutes left on the clock. Suarez was moments later deemed to have been bundled over by Marquinhos in the penalty area. Neymar took the resulting dubious spot-kick sending the goalkeeper the other away.
It was now a do or die affair for the Catalans as the noise levels and belief in the stadium sent goosebumps on everyone watching the game around the world.
Barca sent everybody including Ter Stegen up for a Messi free-kick which PSG cleared but then fouled the Barca goalie moments later inside their half and another free-kick was awarded.
It was in the last seconds of the game that Neymar flighted over a hopeful ball into the six-yard box which Sergi Roberto volleyed into the net.
Everyone apart from the PSG fans, bench and traveling supporters was sent into raptures as the Barcelona comeback was completed.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who had announced he was leaving the club at the end of the season, joined in the celebrations saying the game felt like a horror film at times.
”It is difficult to explain in words. This is a sport for crazy people, a unique sport. Any kid who was in the Camp Nou tonight will never forget this in their life. It was a torrent of feelings. I don’t cry – I would like to, but the tears don’t come out. But I enjoyed this as much as the rest; as much as those who cried.”
”Faith is the word that best defines this tonight,” Luis Enrique continued about the Barcelona comeback.
”Above all, this is a victory of faith. The faith the players showed, the faith the supporters showed. I have only ever seen the stadium like this once before, and that was back when I was playing. Normally with 10 minutes to go, people are leaving the stadium. But tonight they didn’t. If any went, stuff them, they have missed a historic night.”
PSG’s Spanish coach, Unai Emery, blamed his players for switching off to allow the Barcelona comeback saying they missed a major opportunity.
”The first half was our fault and we didn’t manage to press or do things with the ball. We defended very deep and they had more chances to score. We made mistakes for the two first-half goals.”
”We were calmer in the second half and better positioned. We improved and had a chance for 3-2. The refereeing decisions went against us and we lost everything in the closing minutes. Barcelona are capable of doing that. It was all or nothing for them in the final minutes. There’s no explanation for what happened.”