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PSG exorcise old ghosts as Mbappe keeps Champions League dream alive

Christian Liewig - Corbis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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Paris Saint-Germain's emphatic victory over Barcelona keeps alive the French club's dream of ending the Kylian Mbappe era by lifting the Champions League trophy at Wembley in June.

Their hopes of going all the way in Europe's elite club competition for the first time hung in the balance after they lost 3-2 at home to Barca in the first leg of their quarter-final last week.

They had never previously won a Champions League knockout tie after losing the first leg at home, and their prospects of doing so this time appeared slim after they conceded the opening goal on the night.

Another disappointing exit threatened for the Qatar-owned club who had gone out in the last 16 in five of the previous seven seasons.

But they seized the opportunity given to them in Catalonia after Ronald Araujo's red card left Barcelona to play over an hour with 10 men, allowing Luis Enrique's team to go on and win 4-1 on the night and 6-4 on aggregate.

PSG were rampant with the extra player, as Ousmane Dembele again stood out against his old team by scoring the equaliser on the night and winning a penalty which Kylian Mbappe converted to put PSG ahead in the tie.

In between, the outstanding Vitinha -- who had already scored in the first leg -- netted with a brilliant strike from outside the box, and Mbappe made sure of the win late on to spark wild celebrations in the away contingent at Montjuic.

"It is a magnificent, historic moment for the club. It is not easy to win here, but I was confident. I told the coach we were going to win and qualify," PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi proudly told broadcaster Canal Plus.

The final scoreline was identical to that on their last visit to Barcelona in February 2021, when Mbappe hit a hat-trick in the first leg of a last-16 tie they eventually won 5-2 on aggregate.

But the manner of this victory surely finally exorcises the ghost of their humiliating collapse in Barcelona in 2017, when they won 4-0 at home in the first leg only to lose 6-1 in the return in a stunning implosion.

Wembley in sight?

Seven years ago, Barcelona went into the 88th minute of the second leg needing to score three times and duly did so.

This time it was PSG who produced the turnaround, and they now have a glorious opportunity to reach a second Champions League final in five seasons.

"This means a lot," Dembele told Canal Plus. "We are crossing our fingers that we can get to Wembley."

PSG responded to the 2017 defeat by moving a few months later to sign Neymar and Mbappe for the two biggest transfer fees in football history.

Neymar departed last year for Saudi Arabia, and Mbappe recently informed the French champions that he intends to leave when his contract expires at the end of this campaign, with Real Madrid almost certainly his next destination.

The closest PSG have come to winning the Champions League trophy with Mbappe came in the 2020 final loss to Bayern Munich, behind closed doors in Lisbon during the pandemic.

It really would feel like a waste for them if they do not manage to win it with such a generational talent in their ranks.

Questions have been asked about Mbappe's recent performances, but his goals on Tuesday took him to 41 for the season in all competitions.

He is now just two goals away from a half-century in the Champions League, and is the competition's leading marksman this season with eight.

Four of them have come in two away games in the knockout phase, and anything is possible for PSG when Mbappe is on form.

He also scored in the group stage against Borussia Dortmund, who will be PSG's opponents in the semi-finals.

Luis Enrique's side -- who could wrap up the Ligue 1 title before then -- must be considered huge favourites to overcome the team who are currently fifth in the Bundesliga.

If they do that, then they would just be one game at Wembley away from the glory they have chased for so long.

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