Barcelona 1-4 PSG (4-6 agg): Xavi unhappy with ‘really bad’ referee on chaotic night

Barcelona react to defeat by Paris St-Germain
Paris St-Germain are the only side to have scored four or more goals at Barcelona in a Champions League knockout tie – and they have done it twice (also in 2021)

Barcelona had a two-goal aggregate lead and were seemingly in control in Spain until it all turned to chaos.

A “disaster performance” from the referee, “panic” from Barcelona’s players and “an unnecessary expulsion” were all blamed on a dramatic Tuesday evening at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys as Paris St-Germain ran out 4-1 winners.

Barcelona centre-back Ronald Araujo’s sending off turned the tide in their Champions League quarter-final as PSG came from 3-2 down in the first leg to win the tie 6-4 on aggregate.

A double from Kylian Mbappe, a long-range strike from Vitinha and an Ousmane Dembele goal against his former club sent Barcelona spiralling out of control – and out of the competition.

As Barcelona turned in a performance riddled with mistakes, referee Istvan Kovacs had a busy evening. The Romanian showed three red cards to the hosts – manager Xavi’s frustrations getting the better of him, before a member of his coaching staff was dismissed for dissent. That only compounded the damage done by Araujo’s red-card inducing challenge on Bradley Barcola early in the first half.

“The referee was really bad. I told him his performance was a disaster. I don’t like to talk about referees, but it had a clear impact in the season and it has to be said,” Xavi told Movistar Plus.

“We are very upset and angry because the red card was the decisive factor in the match. With 11, we were in a good position, playing well and in command.

“It’s too much to flash a red card in a game like this. There was another game after that… It is a pity that the work of the season was ruined by an unnecessary expulsion.”

Araujo’s early exit allowed PSG to build momentum. The goals flowed; Barcelona collapsed. Joao Cancelo needlessly brought down Dembele in the box, allowing Mbappe to score the first of his two goals from the penalty spot.

“You can’t make mistakes in the Champions League,” former Barcelona striker Thierry Henry told CBS.

“If you make mistakes, you pay the price straight away and that’s why it is so hard to win that competition because you cannot make one mistake.”

‘You cannot win when you panic’

Xavi reacts to being sent off against PSG
Barcelona manager Xavi was sent off as referee Istvan Kovacs showed 12 cards during the 4-1 defeat

Having left Paris with a 3-2 victory, Barcelona got off to the perfect start in their second leg when Raphinha deflected in teenager Lamine Yamal’s cross.

But Barcelona’s lead did not last long and PSG took control in the second half as the cards came from Kovacs.

“It is a shame that all the work of a season, because of a refereeing decision, finishes here,” Xavi told CBS.

“I would have liked to have played 11 v 11 against Luis Enrique and against PSG [for] all the minutes of the game. We know that there are sendings off in football but I believe that this one [for Araujo] was unnecessary.”

There were a total of 12 cards shown on the night to add to the five goals, a penalty and Ilkay Gundogan’s strike which clipped the woodwork in the second half.

But ex-striker Henry thinks the chaos was all Barcelona’s own making.

“Barcelona deserved to go down to 10 men. That penalty was a penalty. That doesn’t mean you have to concede those goals,” he added.

“The goals they conceded weren’t because they were playing with 10 men. It was because they started to panic. You cannot win any title or be champions when you panic. I don’t care who you are.

“You cannot panic in difficult situations because it will creep up on you, it will creep up on the team in the stadium and the next thing you know, the momentum goes to Paris St-Germain. Then they find themselves out of the competition.”

At full-time, Barcelona supporters were in tears in the stands. Players fell to their knees on the pitch and manager Xavi came down from a box in the stadium to console his team.

Mbappe led Paris St-Germain celebrations in front of the away fans. They have a place in the semi-finals to look forward to for a fourth time.

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