Real Madrid cruised into the 2018 UEFA Champions League quarter-final competition with Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-half goal to secured the needed 2-1 victory at Paris St Germain (PSG) on Tuesday night.
Ronaldo headed home seven minutes into the second half and Casemiro added a second 10 minutes from time against a less creative PSG, who showed no zeal to outplay Real Madrid for the prized 2018 UEFA Champions League quarter-final ticket.
The 12-time European champions went through 5-2 on aggregate.
Paris St Germain (PSG) played without their injured talisman Neymar and also had Marco Verratti sent off for a second booking in the 66th minute to compound their woes.
Ronaldo scored for the ninth UEFA Champions League game in a row, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record in the competition.
PSG striker Edinson Cavani equalized with 19 minutes left, only for Casemiro to give Real victory at the Parc des Princes.
Zinedine Zidane’s side, who are 15 points adrift of arch-rivals FC Barcelona in La Liga but aiming for their third straight UEFA Champions League crown, were solid throughout.
The home side were totally outplayed in last night encounter and rarely threatened a better Real Madrid; with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric starting on the bench after returning from injury, Real Madrid initially struggled to control the midfield but PSG failed to take advantage of the dull start to the game.
Real had a great opportunity in the 20th minute, but PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola pulled off a superb save as he parried Sergio Ramos’s effort from close range.
The visitors had another chance in the 38th when Karim Benzema’s curled shot was saved by Areola.
PSG had their first big chance on the stroke of halftime as Kylian Mbappe burst down the right flank, only for his low shot to be blocked by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
The Portuguese was spot on in the 52nd minute, beating Areola with a downward header from Lucas Vazquez’s cross from the left.
But PSG finished the match with 10 men after combative midfielder Verratti picked up a second yellow card.
They levelled in the 71st when the ball deflected into the net off Cavani to give the home fans a glimmer of hope.
However, that was short-lived as Casemiro’s shot in the 80th minute took a slight deflection off Marquinhos to earn the win as Real made the quarter-finals for the eighth straight season.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi earlier stated the club’s objective was to win the competition “in the next five years”, after the club suffered an honourable defeat to Barcelona on away goals in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2013.
That deadline expired with Tuesday’s limp defeat to holders Real Madrid in the last 16, leaving the French side as far away from being European champions as at any point since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought the club in 2011.
For all their lavish spending, PSG have still not made it past the quarter-finals of the competition this decade, and there have now been consecutive exits in the last 16, the yesterday 5-2 aggregate loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid coming after a spectacular 6-1 lost to Barca saw them crash out in Barcelona a year ago.
The strategy after that defeat was to commit to paying the two biggest transfer fees in football history last August to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for a combined 402 million euros ($499 million), an attempt to buy immediate success on the biggest stage.
It has not worked, with Neymar left watching Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes that sealed PSG’s fate from Brazil, where he is recovering from a foot operation.
“All that for that”, was the headline on the front of sports daily L’Equipe on Wednesday, a reference mainly to the bold transfer strategy.
“We believe in our players. We want to continue the project, with the two of them because they are the future of the club,” said Al-Khelaifi on Tuesday when asked if the club’s investment should be called into question.