By Israel Igiri
Real Madrid are through to the last eight of the Champions League for the eight consecutive season after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro helped them to a 2-1 victory at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night, edging out Paris Saint Germain 5-2 on aggregate.
Ronado headed home seven minutes into the second half, finding the back of the net for the ninth consecutive Champions League game, matching Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record in the competition.
Edison Cavani had given the Les Parisiens a chance of doing a comeback, scoring in the 71st minute, but Casemiro all but sealed Madrid’s passage into the next round, adding a second 10 minutes from time against a shambolic PSG, who were without their injured talisman Neymar.
The French side who were missing Neymar, never threatened to knockout the defending champions as they showed too much respect to Zinedine Zidane’s side, and had their goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to thank after he made two fine saves from Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema in the first half to keep them in the tie.
It only took Zidane’s men nine minutes to get their deserved away goal after Ronaldo powered Lucas Vazquez’s cross beyond Areola to score his 12th goal in the competition. Dani Alves lost the ball to Marco Asensio, and his fine ball to Lucas allowed the midfielder to cross for Ronaldo to head in at the far post.
PSG’s hopes of doing a comeback was dealt a heavy blow in the 66th minute as Marco Verratti was dismissed for dissent against referee Felix Brych. The midfielder was sent off for a second booking after he protested for not awarded a free-kick following a foul committed against him.
However, Cavani reignited his side’s hopes of doing the “impossible” when he netted his seventh Champions League goal of the season in the 71st minute. Angel Di Maria’s cross was headed across goal by Thiago Silva and saved by Ramos, only for the ball to deflect through Cavani’s right leg into the net.
But any hope of a famous fight-back were ended in the 80th minute when Casemiro’s shot took a huge deflection off Marquinhos and past the stranded Areola to keep the defending champions’ quest of winning a third consecutive CL title intact.
The defeat means Unai Emery is likely going to be fired anytime soon or at the end of the season as he was hired to bring Champions League glory to Paris. There certainly will not be another chance for him to right the wrong. The club will now have to wait for at least another year for a chance of tasting the elusive Champions League glory.
Meanwhile, the victory lifts the pressure on Zizou, who is under serious pressure in Madrid following his side’s domestic woes.