Real Madrid beats PSG 1-0 in Champions League
MADRID (AP) Nacho Fernandez scored from a tight angle two minutes after entering the match to help Real Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 and advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League on Tuesday.
PSG had the most chances at the Santiago Bernabeu but Madrid escaped with the victory when Fernandez surprised goalkeeper Kevin Trapp with a soft shot that crossed the goalmouth and spun into the far corner after bouncing near the goal line in the 35th minute.
Fernandez, who had substituted left back Marcelo because of an injury, chased down a loose ball inside the area after a shot blocked by PSG defender Thiago Silva and sent his left-footed shot into the corner without letting the ball hit the ground.
The win gave Madrid 10 points from four matches in Group A, enough for the Spanish side to clinch a spot in the next round with two games left.
PSG, which had the most shots and more ball possession, remained on seven points. Shakhtar Donetsk, which defeated Malmo 4-0 in Ukraine, reached three points, the same as the Swedish club.
''That's the way football is,'' PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. ''We should have been more effective, but sometimes you score and sometimes you don't. The thing that bothers me the most is that Real Madrid scored the way it did. That play could have been avoided.''
The teams were coming off a scoreless draw in France last month, when it was Madrid which played better and was closer to victory.
''We suffered a lot in the first half, they worked the ball very well,'' Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez said. ''We improved in the second half but we have to reflect on the things that we didn't do well today.''
This time PSG created most of the dangerous scoring opportunities from the start. Adrien Rabiot hit the post in the 37th and Edinson Cavani had a shot cleared at the goal line in first-half injury time. Angel Di Maria, returning to the Bernabeu to face his former club, struck the post with a low corner kick shot that nearly surprised Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the 78th and hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 89th.
''We delivered our best match of the season,'' Di Maria said. ''An outstanding display. We made a mistake and were punished. We played 10 times better than Real. We'll carry on that way.''
Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly scored in the 22nd with low shot that missed wide with Navas already beaten, and the Swedish striker also came close with a 29th-minute free kick shot that almost hit the post.
Cristiano Ronaldo had another quiet night. His lone chance was a 26th-minute free kick that was easily saved by Trapp.
''They had a lot of possession and they also caused us problems on the counter,'' Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. ''Today we got three very important points, but we have to keep on improving.''
The high-profile match at the Bernabeu pitted two of the best teams in Europe this season against each other. Both clubs were undefeated this season going into the game and both had yet to concede a goal in the Champions League.
PSG, eliminated in the tournament's quarterfinals the last three seasons, hasn't won in Spain since the 2012-13 season, when it defeated Valencia 2-1.
Real Madrid had a few important players returning from injury, including Ramos. Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez was on the bench, but Benitez still couldn't count on strikers Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Paris Saint-Germain was boosted by the return of defender David Luiz, who had been nursing a knee injury, but Blanc remained without defender Marquinhos and midfielder Javier Pastore, and he also lost midfielder Marco Verratti because of an injury just 15 minutes into Tuesday's match.
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