5 TALKING POINTS! PSG 1-2 Real Madrid (2-5 Agg)… As Ronaldo And Casemiro Score As Los Blancos Progress!

Zinedine Zidane’s side are through to the last eight as they bid to make it three European crowns in a row.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro struck to deservedly fire Real Madrid past a limp Paris Saint-Germain and into the Champions League quarter-finals.

The first half was tense, end to end, before a fiery Parc des Princes, but lacking in quality.

Karim Benzema wasted the best chance after breaking in all alone the left, with his shot saved by Alphonse Areola.

However Madrid came out flying at the start of the second half and Ronaldo headed home Lucas Vazquez’s cross in the 51st minute, after a superb reverse ball by Marco Asensio.

PSG hadn’t created much before Verratti threw their chances down the drain when he protested vehemently to referee Felix Brych and received his second yellow card.

Asensio struck the post as Madrid nearly doubled their lead before Edinson Cavani pulled PSG level on the night, when the ball bounced in off his leg from close range without the Uruguayan having to move a muscle.

Casemiro sent Madrid back ahead with a deflected effort over Areola in the 80th minute to seal PSG’s fate.

Here are the five key talking points…

1. Ronaldo epitomises Madrid’s European desire

In recent years it’s obvious that Real Madrid’s prime objective has become the Champions League.

With the exception of last season’s triumph they have struggled in La Liga since the 2011-12 season, but reached the final of Europe’s premiere competition three times in the last four years, winning it on each occasion.

If any player epitomises Madrid’s ambitions in the Champions League, it is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese struck in his ninth game running in the tournament, accruing 14 goals in that time, equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s tally in 2003 with Manchester United, although the Dutchman netted only 12.

Ronaldo hit two against PSG in the first leg and broke the deadlock here, heading home from close range. It looked simple, but Ronaldo has mastered the art of being in the right place at the right time.

Last season Ronaldo hit five against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, a hat-trick against Atletico in the semis and then struck twice against Juventus as Madrid lifted the trophy for the 12th time in Cardiff.

2. Toothless PSG desperately missing Neymar

All the talk coming into this match was about how PSG would cope without star man Neymar.

And although Unai Emery’s side did not collapse like Brazil did against Germany without the injured winger in the 2014 World Cup, this was pathetic in its own way from the French side.

Neymar was criticised in some quarters after the first leg because he didn’t score, but it was clear that everything good PSG did stemmed from his boots.

Angel Di Maria came in for the former Barcelona man to face his old side and although he gave Marcelo a tough time, without Neymar PSG lacked fear factor.

Edinson Cavani had about as much influence as Neymar did from his hammock in Brazil, while new kid on the scene Kylian Mbappe huffed and puffed in vain.

3. Fans deliver, players don’t

“An incredible atmosphere will not be enough if we don’t do our work on the pitch, although it will be important,” Dani Alves warned his team-mates before the game.

PSG fans did their part, filling the Parc des Princes with noise and life. Nobody doubted they would, after their ultras headed to Madrid’s hotel on Monday night with flares and drums to try and keep Los Blancos’ stars awake.

When the match kicked off the field was swathed in smoke from flares and firecrackers, while a constant rumble of noise didn’t let up for most of the first half as PSG supporters roared their team on.

However it should be noted that a handful of fans disrespected the minute’s silence for Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who died suddenly on Sunday at the team hotel because of a heart attack.
Those individuals aside, PSG supporters delivered but their team did not, failing to rise to the occasion on another big night.

At time the action in the stands was more interesting than that on the pitch, with the ultras letting off another barrage of flares at the start of the second half, again flooding the stadium with smoke, so much so that the referee tried to get them to stop.

4. What next for PSG?

Unai Emery will go. If not in the coming days then, more likely, at the end of the season. Because for PSG, the Champions League is the main goal too.

Winning the French title and cup, which they will likely still do this season, is not enough to save the former Sevilla coach.

Ultimately this Madrid side, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric unable to start because of injury, was weakened, and still far too good for the hosts.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the Qatar Sports Investments group have pumped hundreds of millions into the club, paying a world record 222 million euro fee for Neymar last summer and they have committed to invest 180m euros in Mbappe too, currently on loan from Monaco.

Only trophies and triumph is good enough for PSG so they will throw the bank at Luis Enrique, who won the treble with Barcelona, as well as looking for weak points in the team to improve.

Chelsea must brace themselves with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois already heavily linked to the French side.

5. Zidane finally making bold choices

Madrid were in a slump during the first half of the season and one of the reasons was that the team had got too comfortable.

Eventually Zinedine Zidane took action and Bale has been one of the victims.

The Welsh winger started on the bench in the first leg of this tie and again here, with the hard-working Lucas Vazquez picked ahead of him.

While the Spanish winger lacks flair and star power, he always puts in a shift and that’s what Madrid needed here. In the past the coach might not have made that call, but Madrid have everything to play for in the Champions League, with a league title defence out of reach.

Vazquez rewarded Zidane with an accurate cross for Ronaldo to head home the opener and he also struck the post in the final stages as Madrid took full control.

Isco has been another victim of the new meritocracy, with the Spanish playmaker bought on for the superior Asensio with just a few minutes to go.

It’s astonishing to think that Asensio cost Madrid less than 4 million euros back in 2014 when they struck a deal with Real Mallorca.

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