Low-key PSG beats Leverkusen 2-1 to reach last 8

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014
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PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc was left feeling frustrated and let down by some of his players after a scrappy 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen sealed a Champions League quarterfinal slot for the second straight season.

PSG made a poor start and midfielder Sidney Sam gave Leverkusen a flicker of hope with a well taken goal after six minutes. Brazilian defender Marquinhos equalized soon after and Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi continued his fine form with the winner in the 53rd minute.

But Blanc felt his team had switched off after the first leg, which PSG won 4-0 for a crushing 6-1 aggregate win.

"It's all well and good saying to the players 'forget the first game' but it's true that subconsciously you tell yourself you've got a bit of a cushion," Blanc said. "But there were players out there who don't play that much and you have to show your best level. The Champions League is a level above and I was expecting more from my team."

With Blanc resting several players, midfielders Yohan Cabaye, Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore were given starts, while Marquinhos replaced countryman Alex in central defense. Christophe Jallet stepped in for the injured Gregory van der Wiel at right back.

Given a chance to shine, Pastore was disappointing.

"We didn't play very well. I was expecting a bit more. But the essential thing is that we're through," Blanc said. "You could put it down to a lack of experience or a lack of preparation, yet we did prepare the match properly."

Still, he remains optimistic that his team can contend for the trophy.

"I think since last year our opponents fear us more and more," Blanc said. "We're seen as a club that can go very far in this competition. We're not going to content ourselves with reaching the quarterfinals."

Leverkusen had midfielder Emre Can sent off for a second yellow card with a little more than 20 minutes left.

But PSG will have to do better in defense in the quarterfinals, with Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes missing a first-half penalty.

Barcelona, which eliminated PSG from the competition last season, beat Manchester City 2-1 in the night's other match to advance 4-1 on aggregate.

Leverkusen started brightly and Can forced Sirigu into a low save but he was beaten when right back Giulio Donati crossed from the right and Sam rose unchallenged at the far post to head firmly home.