PSG beats Valencia 2-1 in Champions League
VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore gave Paris Saint-Germain an important 2-1 away win at Valencia in a the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match Tuesday, which still ended badly for the French team as it allowed a late goal and had star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic needlessly sent off in injury time.
PSG looked to have virtually secured a spot in the quarterfinals after Lavezzi hit his fourth goal of the season with a fierce strike in the 10th minute and Pastore doubled the lead in the 43rd when he shot through Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita's legs.
But Valencia clawed back into the series when Adil Rami latched on to a perfectly delivered free kick by Tino Costa in the 90th, and Ibrahimovic then earned a straight red card for a clumsy challenge on Andres Guardado, meaning he will miss the return leg.
"We played really well, we have to be happy but at the end it was not good for us," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "Valencia is a good team, we have played the first half, but now we have to play second half and we have to pay attention."
In Tuesday's other game, Juventus beat Celtic 3-0 in Glasgow to take a seemingly comfortable lead ahead of the return leg on March 6.
Up until those final few minutes in Valencia, PSG had seemed likely to take a similar advantage with it back to Paris. Everything had worked perfectly for the French club, which is trying to establish itself as a European power after spending lavishly on star players since being bought up by wealthy Qatari owners.
While Valencia was allowed to control play for much of the game — enjoying more than 60 percent of possession — the French team calmly sat back and defended, before launching counterattacks that always proved dangerous.
"They have been very strong, each counter had much danger and the truth is that we may have been too straightforward," Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde said.
PSG's 20-year-old attacking midfielder Lucas Moura was behind many of those counterattacks in the first half, wreaking havoc with his speed along the right wing and possible leaving new signing David Beckham — who watched on in the stands — wondering where he can find a spot in the lineup.