It wasn’t pretty but Real Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 on Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid t9 secure a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
Nacho’s goal in the 35th minute proved to be the game’s lone goal, but Laurent Blanc will head back to Paris wondering how his side did not win this match as Cavani should have scored two, Zlatan was inches away, and Di Maria hit the bar.
While Rafa Benitez will point to another win and clean sheet, the fact is that without Benzema and Bale, Los Blancos attack never really troubled the French champions all night.
After a first half hour in which there were few chances for either side, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic shot that grazed the post in the 23rd the lone highlight, then a huge stroke of luck gave Real the lead.
Kroos’ shot from distance was deflected by Thiago Silva high in the air and looked to be spinning out of play. But Nacho was there on the left and played a ball that PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp allowed to get by him and into the net.
But PSG looked to answer before the break and Adrien Rabiot’s shot from outside the area in the 37th minute thundered off the post. Two minutes later Rabiot threatened but his right-footed shot sailed just wide of Navas’ post.
While those were good chances for Les Parisiens, a chance to draw level was placed on a silver platter for Edinson Cavani just seconds before the halftime whistle when he was played into the area and all alone. But the Uruguayan, inexplicably, stumbled over his own feet like a baby deer on ice and flubbed a shot that was cleared by Nacho.
The Bernabéu began to grow restless in the second half as PSG controlled possession, but the French champions found no way past Real’s defense. Benítez’s men were content to sit back and wait to counter, and one such break almost resulted in their second goal of the night when Trapp needed a big save to stop an Isco shot in the 73rd minute.
Upon his return to the Bernabéu, Ángel Di María looked like he was back at home and played as such, notably with a 78th minute corner kick that he nearly snuck in past Navas.
Kroos nearly sealed affair in the 81st minute after a good build-up from Los Blancos, but Trapp was up for the save. Just minutes from full-time, Di María was presented with a golden opportunity, he bounced off his free kick off the crossbar in the 89th minute, much to the relief of Real.