Barcelona's Messi leaves with injury in draw vs. PSG
Superstar scores before being substituted at halftime due to apparent leg injury
Paris Saint-Germain showed it has the guts to go with the wallet as the ambitious big spenders twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to four-time champion Barcelona in the first leg of their eventful Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday.
Blaise Matuidi's deflected shot crept into the net in the fourth minute of injury time to provide a bit of hope for PSG ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou — especially as Barcelona could be without Lionel Messi after the Argentina forward limped off with a hamstring injury at halftime after scoring the opening goal.
PSG has spent over (euro)250 million ($320 million) on transfers in a bid to join Europe's elite clubs, and although it still faces a huge task to qualify, it at least showed that it has enough spirit and determination to unsettle Barcelona's slick passing game.
"We showed good character and a good attitude on the pitch," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "With Barcelona you have to defend, but when you have the ball you need to be dangerous and have good attacking ideas. ... I have confidence we can do it."
The team's two superstar strikers cancelled each other out in a frenzied atmosphere at Parc des Princes, with Messi putting Barcelona ahead with his 57th goal of the season before his injury. Zlatan Ibrahimovic replied for PSG before setting up Matuidi's last-gasp equalizer in the final seconds.
The Catalans will be annoyed at not going home with a lead, however, after Xavi Hernandez's 89th-minute penalty looked certain to seal victory, but goalkeeper Victor Valdes allowed Matuidi's deflected strike to squirm under his body and over the line.
Messi, Mascherano out
Barca remains the firm favourite, will also be missing centre half Javier Mascherano for the return after he went off on a stretcher near the end after rupturing knee ligaments. He faces six weeks out.
PSG will be without Matuidi for the return leg as he is suspended.
"It's a blow for us because Blaise is an important player," Ancelotti said.
But Messi's possible absence would give PSG greater reason to hope, especially with Ibrahimovic likely to be up against a depleted defence.
"It's going to be tough there but it's not going to be impossible," PSG midfielder David Beckham said. "Ibra can cause any team problems when the ball is played up to him, he is so strong and physical."
"We've paid a heavy price, because we've lost Messi, and Mascherano," Roura said. "Of course it will be a big loss if we lose Messi, the best player in the world. But we have Cesc and other options, so we are confident from that point of view."
Messi, who was replaced by Cesc Fabregas for the second half, will have further tests on Wednesday to determine the extent of his injury.
Both coaches felt aggrieved at refereeing decisions, with Roura complaining that Ibrahimovic's goal was offside and Ancelotti saying Alexis Sanchez dived to win the penalty.
That came after a superb passing move opened up PSG's defence on the left and Sanchez ran through before being tripped by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. With Messi normally taking Barcelona's penalties, Xavi dispatched the spot kick with all the composure of someone who has won two European Championships and a World Cup for Spain.
PSG had the better of the opening half had Messi almost completely contained until Dani Alves set him free in the area with a delicately lobbed pass, and the four-time player of the year clinically dispatched it into the far corner.
Ibrahimovic had wasted a couple of chances before finally getting the equalizer. Thiago Silva's glancing header hit the post, and the Swede stretched out a giant leg to poke the ball into the bottom corner — although replays showed he had been offside.
Beckham was handed only his third start for PSG in central midfield alongside Matuidi, the former England captain's vast experience seeing him preferred to the inexperienced 20-year-old Marco Verratti.
"I put Beckham there because he has the ability to play forward passes and change the play," Ancelotti said. "He played really well with good passes, changing sides. That was the reason I put him on the pitch."
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was back in charge for the first time since returning from a 10-week medical stay in New York, where he received treatment after the removal of a throat tumour in December.
PSG came close to scoring in the fifth minute when Javier Pastore chested the ball into the path of winger Ezequiel Lavezzi as he cut inside from the right of the area. Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets came across to tackle him and his clearance struck the post.
Ibrahimovic was hauled down after a surging run in the 18th and Valdes made a great save from his subsequent free kick.
Silva managed to contain Messi early on, making an outstanding double tackle to rob him of possession just inside the area. But Messi can never be subdued for long, and he scored his eighth Champions League goal of the campaign with his first chance. It was his 59th in the competition overall, second to all-time leader Raul Gonzalez's 71.