Sports / Soccer

Unlikely hero Nacho lifts Real into last 16

By Agence France-Presse in Madrid (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-05 07:57

First-half substitute Nacho was the unlikely hero with the only goal of the game as Real Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 on Tuesday to seal a place in the Champions League last 16.

The defender had only been on the field for two minutes as an emergency leftback in place of the injured Marcelo when he took advantage of a defensive lapse in the 35th minute to slot past stranded PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and score the only goal of the game at Santiago Bernabeu.

The result allowed Rafael Benitez's side to become one of the first teams to guarantee its place in the knockout rounds as it maintained its unbeaten record this season and inflicted a first defeat on PSG since Barcelona eliminated the French champion from this competition in April.

 Unlikely hero Nacho lifts Real into last 16

Real Madrid sub Nacho gestures to fans after scoring the winning goal against PSG on Tuesday. Juan Medina / Reuters

However, PSG only had itself blame for losing after missing a host of chances in a first half it dominated.

"I am happy because we are through," said Benitez.

"To win, to be top of the group and not have conceded a goal are things to be positive about after playing difficult opponents," added the menager.

With Shakhtar Donetsk beating Malmo 4-0 in Ukraine in the night's other Group A game, Laurent Blanc's side remains four points clear of the teams below it and so should still comfortably join Madrid in the next round.

Still, PSG will most likely have to settle for second place.

"That is the way football is and Real scored from a half chance," said Blanc.

"Even if we didn't get the result we came for, we need to take the positives. We proved that we can create danger for any team."

There was particular pressure on the visiting side to show it could genuinely compete with one of the continent's finest in its own backyard after it lacked inspiration in a 0-0 draw with an injury-hit Real in France a fortnight ago.

And to be fair to PSG, it immediately took the game to its host.

The French squad dominated possession and overcame the loss of influential midfielder Marco Verratti to what appeared to be an ankle injury after just 17 minutes, with Adrien Rabiot taking his place.

(China Daily 11/05/2015 page22)

Most Popular
What's Hot