FC Barcelona entered the match without their captain, Carles Puyol, and arguably their best centre-half, Javier Mascherano, while superstar striker Lionel Messi was forced to start the match on the bench, struggling with a hamstring injury he picked up in the first-leg at the Parc des Princes. With no real lead to speak of, other than their advantage on away goals, Barcelona faced an uphill battle, even with the Camp Nou crowd behind them. Paris Saint-Germain after all were probably younger, more athletic and crucially, under a lot less pressure to deliver a result. Even with a star-studded line-up and a decorated coach, PSG were the underdogs, not that you would have been able to tell from the first-half of action.
Xavi's free-kick aside, Barcelona were struggling to make an impact, and were barely able to reach Salvatore Sirigu's goal, let alone register a shot on target. PSG on the other hand had no such trouble. Against a weakened Barcelona defense, the visitors had a number of chances to take the lead as Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura wreaked havoc on an unfamiliar centre-back pairing. Victor Valdes came to the resuce, but he was only delaying the inevitable. PSG were in control of the game - even without possession of the ball and the only surprise was that it took them 50 minutes to break the deadlock.
Exchanging a one-two with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, somehow Javier Pastore had the pace (the determination?) to surge past the Barca defense and the Argentine displayed excellent composure to finish the chance, driving the ball past Valdes at his near-post. Barcelona were behind, and in desperate need of a miracle. Enter Lionel Messi. Even with one leg, Messi had enough to turn the tide of this match in Barca's favour, playing an integral part in the build-up to Pedro's well-taken equaliser. For now, Messi's work is done. He can rest, recover and return in the semi-finals.