'Absolute joke': Football world fumes over 'ridiculous' drama

Andrew Reid
·6-min read
Pictured here, Lionel Messi misses a penalty for Barcelona against PSG.
Lionel Messi's penalty miss for Barcelona was mired in controversy. Pic: Optus Sport

Furious football fans have hit out at VAR as Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League with a 5-2 aggregate defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.

PSG booked their spot in the quarter-finals as Barcelona were unable to mount another comeback for the ages – despite a Lionel Messi thunderbolt at the Parc des Princes.

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A 4-1 defeat in the first leg meant Barca needed a miracle similar to the one they conjured four years ago at the Nou Camp when they overturned a 4-0 deficit against the same opponents at the same stage, but the La Liga giants fell behind to Kylian Mbappe’s controversial penalty on the half hour.

Mbappe - at just 22 years and 80 days - overtook Messi to become the youngest player to score 25 goals in Europe’s premier club competition.

Not to be outdone, Messi sensationally found the top corner in the 37th minute from distance to breathe life into Barcelona's hopes, but then saw his spot-kick saved by Keylor Navas on the stroke of halftime.

However, the incident was mired in controversy with replays showing PSG's Marco Verratti encroached into the area during Messi's spot kick.

The Italian was clearly inside the arc of the goal square before Messi struck his penalty attempt, which Navas diverted onto the crossbar.

Even more crucially, Verratti was the player on hand to head the rebound clear after the ball ricocheted back into the goal box off the crossbar.

Viewers were absolutely livid with VAR officials for overlooking the crucial incident, with angry fans insisting the penalty should have been retaken.

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Mbappe's goals seal the deal for PSG

PSG, who were once again without former Barca forward Neymar, banished the ghosts of the thrilling fixture in 2016-17, with Mbappe’s four goals going a long way to settling an absorbing tie in the Ligue 1 side’s favour.

Sergino Dest had a great opportunity to score for Barcelona after driving forward on the right but his strike was tipped on to the bar by the PSG keeper.

Mbappe had looked threatening but the opportunity to grab his landmark goal came courtesy of a contentious penalty decision, with Mauro Icardi going over in the area after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had gathered a loose cross.

Referee Anthony Taylor’s check with the video assistant referee highlighted Clement Lenglet brushing the heels of Icardi and, despite Barca’s protests, Mbappe gratefully converted the spot-kick, sending Ter Stegen the wrong way.

The goal left Barcelona needing a miracle and Messi gave them hope with a goal that left the football world in disbelief.

Seen here, PSG' Kylian Mbappe celebrates after converting a penalty against Barcelona.
Kylian Mbappe's first half penalty rammed home PSG's advantage in the tie. Pic: Getty

The Argentinian shifted on to his left foot before letting fly from 30 yards with an astonishing strike that arrowed past Navas and into the top corner.

Messi then squandered the chance to grab another goal after Layvin Kurzawa’s high foot on Antoine Griezmann in the box, with Navas rewarded for guessing the right way as the resulting penalty came off his legs before rebounding off the bar.

Barca had 16 shots at goal in the opening 45 minutes and they were on the front foot from the off after half-time although PSG were largely comfortable in repelling the intricate attacks around their area.

Messi managed to find space in the centre of goal eight yards from goal but a last-gasp intervention from Marquinhos managed to subdue the danger as the Barca talisman got his feet in a tangle.

Sergio Busquets had spent the evening making a nuisance of himself at set-pieces and his near post header from a corner had to be palmed away by Navas before the hosts scrambled clear.

Mbappe then missed the chance to put the tie to bed when he blazed over the bar after being put clear through on goal.

However, the French champions held out for the 1-1 result that clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory and a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

with agencies

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