PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 4-2 Athletic Bilbao
Paris Saint-Germain’s valiant 4-2 win over Athletic Bilbao last night was not enough for them to advance into the last-32 of the Europa League.
Red Bull Salzburg came from two goals down to claim the spoils in a 3-2 win away to Bratislava, giving them the privilege of progression despite finishing level on points with the Parisians. Their superior goal difference was enough to see them through.
Things got off to the worst possible start for PSG at the Parc des Princes as Bilbao took the lead with just three minutes on the clock thanks to Jon Aurtenetxe’s header.
PSG responded well, and were even hearing the ripples of a shock two goal lead for Slovan Bratislava against Salzburg which seemingly spurred them on.
Javier Pastore equalised in the 21st minute as he eluded the Spanish backline to latch onto Jean Christophe Bahebeck’s knock down via a Nene set-piece and rifled the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
PSG were then in front just before half-time thanks to Mathieu Bodmer. Nene, with yet another delivery, this time from a corner found Bodmer lurking at the near post and his looping header gave Raul Fernandez in goal no chance.
David Lopez equalised for the Spaniards 10 minutes after the interval with a right footed thunderbolt that an outstretched Nicolas Douchez could do nothing about.
With the game so evenly poised, Nene had the chance to win it from the spot but completely fluffed his lines and blazed over the bar.
It was not to matter as Inigo Perez inadvertently guided Mevlut Erding’s ball across goal into his own net before Guillaume Hoarau made a triumphant return to the side after three months out to score from the spot.
Despite – in the end – earning a more than creditable win, Red Bull Salzburg’s victory in Slovakia meant that they go through at the expense of Antoine Kombouare’s side.
The Coach is bitterly disappointed to be eliminated but looked at the positives ahead of the huge clash with champions Lille this coming weekend:
“It’s a huge disappointment because we were good enough to get through.” He told the club’s Official Site.
“Now we have to keep moving forward and draw on this victory. It’s a third consecutive victory and that’s the best possible way to prepare for the Lille match on Sunday. It was a fiercely contested match that Bilbao wanted to win at all costs. I congratulated the players for the win. Now we have to get over the disappointment of being eliminated and focus on Sunday’s game. I’m expecting a huge reaction and a win against Lille.”
Attention will now turn solely onto domestic matters. A victory over the champions on Sunday will not make up for an early exit from Europe, but it will go an awful long way in giving added belief to the fans and players alike in the title quest.