Zlatan red card mars PSG Champions League win

Zlatan red card mars PSG Champions League win
Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up a controversial red card in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 Champions League win over Valencia on Tuesday night, but the Swedish striker remains optimistic about his side's chances of advancing.

Paris Saint-Germain will take its lead into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 series against Valencia, but will face the Spanish side without Ibrahimovic.

“It’s a shame about the red card, but we won and I’m happy for that,” the big Swede told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Going into the 90th minute, the French league leaders appeared in cruise control thanks to first-half goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore.

However, French international centre-back Adil Rami found the net in the final minute to keep Valencia in the tie, before PSG had Ibrahimovic controversially sent-off for a studs-up challenge on Andres Guardado.

“I think he was quite harsh in giving me a red card, but we won the match and should remain positive. We won on the road against Valencia, which is good team,” the Swede told Aftonbladet.

The Swede, who has been criticized in the past for failing to produce his very best in the Champions League knockout stages, will now miss the return leg at the Parc des Princes next month, but at least PSG will have a lead to defend in that game.

“Ibrahimovic did not deserve the red card. I don’t understand the decision,” an unhappy PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti told French Canal Plus television at full-time.

Despite the ending, for much of the evening this was a classic away European performance from Ancelotti’s side, who ceded possession to their hosts but were always a threat on the counter-attack.

“We played well and had chances to score more goals,” added the Italian coach.

“It was a good team performance, but this was just the first leg. There is still the return to come.”

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde said: “They were very strong. Every counter-attack they had was very dangerous.

“We managed to get a late goal, which means we still have a chance, but we must take into account the fact they have some extraordinary players.”

Valencia go off to a nightmare start, with the lively Lucas Moura crashing a shot from 25 yards off the post as a prelude to the visitors’ opening goal.

Lavezzi has been outstanding during PSG’s superb recent run, and it was no great surprise to see the Argentine break the deadlock as he played a lovely one-two with Pastore before sending in a shot that Vicente Guaita in the home goal really should have kept out.

PSG allowed Valencia to dominate possession after that, but they were always a menace on the break, especially down the home side’s left, where the attack-minded Guardado had been forced to fill in with Aly Cissokho and Jeremy Mathieu both injured.

Valencia fell further behind when Lucas turned the unfortunate Guardado inside-out on the right flank before picking out Pastore, whose first-time shot was too good for Guaita.

Valverde made a double change at half-time, with Sergio Canales and Nelson Valdez replacing Ever Banega and Jonas, but the pattern of the game remained much the same.

The Spanish side had plenty of the ball, but PSG came closest to scoring again, with Lavezzi squandering a glorious chance after being picked out by a brilliant Marco Verratti pass.

Ibrahimovic almost netted a classy third goal after a one-two with substitute Clement Chantome, who then saw his follow-up effort disallowed for offside.

But Valencia finally found a route back into the contest as Rami appeared unmarked in the area to head home a trademark dead-ball delivery from Tino Costa before Ibrahimovic was given his marching orders.

AFP/The Local/dl

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