Paris St Germain coach Unai Emery cursed his side for switching off in the final minutes of their 6-1 defeat at Barcelona which sent the French champions out of the Champions League before the quarter-finals for the first time in five years.
Barca scored three times in the final seven minutes to pull off a barely believable comeback after losing the first leg at Parc des Princes 4-0, making PSG the only team in the competition’s history to squander a four-goal advantage.
“In the last few minutes we lost everything we had worked so hard for, and there’s no explanation for what happened in the final minutes, it was all or nothing,” Emery told reporters.
“We have to accept that we had an opportunity to grow after playing so well in the first leg and gaining a lot of confidence and we didn’t take it. You learn from negative experiences in the future and this is a very negative experience for the players, for me and for the staff.”
Luis Suarez headed Barca into the lead in the second minute, spurred on by an electric atmosphere which Luis Enrique said was the best he experienced in his three years as coach and eight years as a player.
“In the first half we were affected by the atmosphere. We did ourselves no favours as we couldn’t continue our good work from the first leg, we wanted to show more character and presence but we conceded two early goals,” Emery said.
Emery aired his complaints about decisions of German referee Deniz Aytekin, who gave two penalties to Barca in the second half and turned down PSG’s appeals when the ball struck the arm of Javier Mascherano.
“Things changed in the second half and I was more calm as the team looked better and more likely to cause Barca problems even after the penalty which put them into the tie,” he said.
“The decisions went their way, but in the vital moments we should have done so much better.”
PSG’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said there were no excuses for not going through as he came to terms with the team’s earliest exit from the Champions League since the club was taken over by the Qatar Investment Authority in 2011.
“There can be no excuses, we did not play in the first half. After winning 4-0 in the first leg this is very difficult to accept, but we have no choice,” he told reporters.
“After the first leg we had plenty of reason to believe we’d get to the quarter-finals but we know that in football nothing is guaranteed. It’s very difficult to accept conceding three goals in seven minutes and everyone is feeling down, as you would expect.”