Football

Emery blames players, referee for inexplicable collapse

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery berated 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 in the Round of 16.

Barca scored thrice in the final seven minutes yesterday morning (Singapore time) to pull off a stunning 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.

Emery said: "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.

"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.

"In the first half, we were affected by the atmosphere. We wanted to show more character and presence, but we conceded two early goals."

Emery also complained about referee Deniz Aytekin, who gave two penalties to Barca in the second half and turned down PSG's appeals when the ball struck a Barca player's arm.

He said: "Things changed in the second half and I was calmer as the team looked better and more likely to cause Barca problems, even after the penalty which put them into the tie.

"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 PSG's earliest exit from the competition since they were 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 said.

"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."

- REUTERS

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