Saturday, May 18, 2024

Choupo-Moting helps Bayern Munich past PSG, into Champions League quarterfinals

Champions League quarterfinals
(L to R) Paris Saint-Germain’s Portuguese defender Nuno Mendes, Bayern Munich’s Cameroonian forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, 2nd-leg football match FC Bayern Munich v Paris Saint-Germain FC in Munich, southern Germany, on March 8, 2023. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

MUNICH, March 9: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored against his former club as Bayern Munich ended the Champions League hopes of Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, beating the French club 2-0 in their last-16 second leg to reach the quarter-finals.
Choupo-Moting, who featured for PSG in their 1-0 Champions League final loss to Bayern in Lisbon in 2020, sidefooted the ball home after Thomas Mueller dispossessed Marco Verratti inside his own penalty area.
Substitute Serge Gnabry scored in the 89th minute to wrap up a 3-0 aggregate victory for the six-time European champions.
Bayern reached the last eight for the 13th time in 15 years, while PSG will need to wait at least another season to lift the coveted trophy for the first time.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann told DAZN his side “needed the crowd” to help them past PSG’s “brutal quality” in the opening half.
“In the second half we were much better than our opponents and deserved to win.”
Bayern were indebted to a fine goalline clearance by Matthijs de Ligt in the first period but were otherwise largely untroubled as Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi offered little.
“It worked, you need to say honestly that in a football game you need to have luck on your side,” said captain Mueller.
“If that became a 1-0, you don’t know how the team would react.”
The Qatari-owned French champions’ lack of squad depth was highlighted, despite the return to full fitness of Mbappe after he was limited to a substitute appearance in PSG’s 1-0 first-leg defeat.
Neymar is set to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, while they lost defenders Marquinhos and Nordi Mukiele to injuries during this game.
Coach Christophe Galtier lamented PSG’s failure to “make the most of our chances” and conceding “a really stupid goal” through Verratti’s error.
“There is frustration and disappointment in the dressing room,” he said. “We can’t repeat the match, we have to look ahead.”
The best chance of a tight opening half fell to Paris midfielder Vitinha, who won the ball when Bayern goalkeeper Yann Sommer attempted to dribble out of a busy penalty area.
Vitinha was presented with an empty net, but his rolled effort allowed De Ligt to clear the ball off the line.
“It’s incredible how much desire he has to defend,” Nagelsmann said of De Ligt. “Nine out of 10 defenders in the world would have given up.”
PSG lost captain Marquinhos to a rib problem 10 minutes before the break.
His replacement Mukiele, just back from an Achilles injury, didn’t reappear after the interval, leaving Galtier to introduce 17-year-old centre-back El Chadaille Bitshiabu for the second half.
Bayern roared out of the blocks after half-time, but PSG were let off by the clumsy feet of Choupo-Moting, who tripped before shooting and then stood in the way of a goal-bound effort from Joshua Kimmich.
The Cameroon striker looked to have redeemed himself in the 52nd minute, but his header from a curling Jamal Musiala cross was chalked off for offside against Mueller.
The Bayern stalwart appeared to not have touched the ball before it nestled in the net, but was adjudged to have been interfering with play.
Bayern continued to push and PSG’s dam broke on 61 minutes, with Choupo-Moting doing the damage.
Mueller robbed the ungainly Verratti in the box, clipped the ball to Leon Goretzka, who squared for Choupo-Moting to double his side’s two-legged advantage.
PSG centre-back Sergio Ramos had a chance to equalise just four minutes later, but his powerful header was brilliantly palmed away by Sommer.
With Mbappe and Messi experiencing off nights, Gnabry put the result beyond doubt, racing onto Joao Cancelo’s pass before firing into the far corner left-footed.
Sadio Mane looked to have scored a third for the home side in injury time, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
AC Milan hold off toothless Tottenham Hotspur to reach Champions League quarterfinals
Antonio Conte said Tottenham still need time to become a European force after bowing out in the last 16 of the Champions League 1-0 on aggregate to AC Milan after a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.
A European elimination hot on the heels of an exit from the FA Cup means Spurs’ 15-year wait to win a trophy will extend for at least another season.
Conte’s return to the touchline failed to inspire a response from his side as Tottenham were toothless in attack and had to play the final 12 minutes a man down as Cristian Romero was sent off for two bookable offences.
“I’m really sorry for the fans, but we cannot invent the win or to hope for a miracle one day that a trophy goes into our training ground,” said Conte.
“We have to build and have patience. I understand the fans don’t have patience as for a long time Tottenham is not winning.”
Victory over two legs takes Milan into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.
“We deserved this result, even though we could have scored more,” said Milan striker Olivier Giroud.
“We showed quality, spirit, and we could have won tonight as well.”
Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes after the later arrival of both sides due to traffic congestion, but it took far longer for the contest to get going.
Conte was back in charge after taking more time after the first leg to recover from gallbladder surgery.
The Italian was his usual animated self and was shown a yellow card by referee Clement Turpin for his protestations at a booking for Clement Lenglet.
However, his players lacked the same energy as Spurs failed to rise to the occasion.
Tottenham have now won just two of their last seven games, including defeat to second-tier Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
Conte’s contract expires at the end of the season and he did little to quash speculation that he will leave at the end of the campaign.
“The situation is really clear. It is one year and three months since I became coach of Tottenham, I always said the same things,” added Conte.
“We need time and patience because we don’t have a solid foundation to be competitive to win in my opinion.
“At the moment the club knows very well my thoughts and I have a great relationship with my chairman, with (sporting director) Fabio Paratici, but it doesn’t mean I don’t tell them my vision.
“Now we have to finish the season. I’m happy to work in Tottenham but at the end we’ll make a decision.”
Only profligate finishing by Milan saved Spurs from another defeat on the night.
Brahim Diaz scored the only goal of the tie and his jinking run inside the Spurs box just lacked the finish as Fraser Forster’s outstretched leg deflected the ball to safety.
Spurs at least forced Mike Maignan into a save 25 minutes from time as he tipped over Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s strike.
Conte gambled by switching to a front four for the final 20 minutes with Richarlison joining Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min up front.
But Kane’s only chance to save his side came deep in stoppage time when his header was well saved by Maignan.
By that point, Spurs were a man down due to Romero’s indiscipline.
The Argentine saw red for the third time in his Spurs career after lunging in on Theo Hernandez.
At the other end Sandro Tonali wasted another glorious chance by going for goal himself with teammates in support before Divock Origi’s effort came back off the inside of the post.
But it did not matter as the seven-time European champions held firm to end more than a decade of waiting to reach the last eight. (AFP)