On Valentine’s Day, Angel Di Maria bombed up and down the Parc Des Princes field like a pitbull on barbiturates, scoring a brace as PSG put four past Barcelona. This meant that Barcelona needed five goals in Wednesday’s home leg to overcome the deficit and advance to the Champions League quarterfinals. I want you to understand that this feat — climbing out of a 4–0 hole — had never, ever, ever, ever been accomplished before. In all of European soccer history. As it turned out, “history” took Barcelona about 94 minutes to change, and the outcome wasn’t all that surprising. This is Barcelona we’re talking about. What was surprising, and maybe even a little funny, was Sergi Roberto being the Catalonians’ savior.
When he was subbed on in the 76th minute, I said, aloud, to anyone who would listen, “Sergi Roberto is so useless.”
I am so sorry.
To recount how we got to 6–5, a deeply hilarious line, Luis Suárez scored first. Or rather, Kevin Trapp, the PSG keeper with a face like a Hollister model and hands like a middle schooler in a utility closet after a turn at spin the bottle, fumbled a clearance.
It was 2–0 at the half thanks to a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and Lionel Messi stashing a penalty five minutes after the restart to bring PSG within two goals of the lemoniest bootiest #lemonbooty*, possibly of all time.
*A #lemonbooty, as coined by Bomani Jones, is essentially snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Turning a 3–1 series lead into a 4–3 loss, through suspensions and throwing ill-advised behind-the-back passes would be a good example. Turning a 25-point lead into an overtime loss by forgetting that running the football is an option would be another. Giving up six goals in an away leg would probably be the best.
A hush fell over the Nou Camp as Kurzawa redeemed himself, winning a 50–50 ball that fell to Edinson Cavani about 12 yards out.
Cavani stopped the bleeding with a half volley, but, by virtue of being Edinson Cavani — a wonder-goal-to-missed-sitter kind of guy — blew a chance to put the game away minutes later, as he was charged down on a breakaway in the 64th minute by Barca keeper Marc-André Ter Stegen, who can’t feel, but can definitely smell fear.
Neymar answered back by tickling the top corner with a textbook-perfect free kick from 30 out, and then with a penalty to make it 5–5 on aggregate. Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, he looped a prayer into the box, which found its way to the tip of an outstretched Sergi Roberto’s boot, and into the back of the net through a narrowing angle. The tears flowed, the rafters went into hysterics. Scenes.
All hail Sergi Roberto, may his name be sung forevermore.