Player ratings as top Paralluelo strikes decides UWCL first leg
Barcelona will take a narrow aggregate lead into next week’s Women’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Roma at Camp Nou following what turned into a too close for comfort opening game in the Italian capital on Tuesday night.
Salma Paralluelo’s first Champions League goal was the overall difference, but Barça were guilty of squandering chances to put the tie to bed, before Roma threatened a late comeback.
Barcelona unsurprisingly dominated the ball right from the kick-off. A number of times in those early moments, it took a Roma scramble defensively to avert danger – Le Giallorosse had never played on such a stage before, nor at Stadio Olimpico, and early nerves perhaps showed.
Mapi Leon had the first sight of goal for the Catalans around 10 minutes, taking up position on the edge of the box and sweeping a sweet left-footed that rippled the net just the wrong side of the post. Both Paralluelo and Caroline Graham Hansen were looking threatening out wide and the latter soon forced Roma goalkeeper Camelia Ceasar into a close-range save.
As Barcelona continued to probe, Lucy Bronze felt she could have done better with a free header at a corner that missed the target, while Aitana Bonmati didn’t make clean enough contact when a weak defensive header dropped to her around 18 yards out.
Paralluelo’s breakthrough was clinical to say the least. The 19-year-old received the ball in a tight space but her first touch out of her feet made the opportunity to then stroke a precise left-footed shot in the bottom corner from just outside the area.
The visitors almost doubled their lead within minutes of the restart. Asisat Oshoala, who actually lacked direct service in the first half, side-footed the ball towards the bottom corner only to see the sprawling Ceasar claw it away just in time. The Romanian stopper somehow also pushed a point-blank Oshoala header over the bar not long afterwards.
Roma’s best passage of play up that point came shortly before the hour mark as Emilie Haavi chased what appeared to be a lost cause on the left. She kept the ball in, driving in-field and pulling back to Valentina Giacinti, whose close-range shot was desperately deflected over by Leon.
Meanwhile, Oshoala was doing everything but score as Elena Linari cleared her header off the line.
Having kept it to 1-0 and managing to create some openings, Roma started to take a few more risks in the final quarter of the contest It had some benefit and Haavi perhaps should have done better with a good chance on the left, firing low at Sandra Panos.
There were gasps around Stadio Olimpico towards the end when Andressa Alves put a gilt-edged chance wide of the post, while it needed the hands of Panos to tip Manuela Giugliano’s swerving shot over the crossbar. Panos again made an even more important near-post save deep into stoppage time when the defence in front of her switched off and Giacinti was through on goal.
GK: Camelia Ceasar – 8/10 – Showcased an array of top shot-stopping abilities.
RB: Elisa Bartoli (c) – 5/10 – Trying to keep up with Paralluelo was like chasing shadows. Worked so hard just to keep Barcelona from running away with it.
CB: Carina Wenninger – 8/10 – Put in an impressively stubborn performance at the back.
CB: Elena Linari – 8/10 – Cleared a certain goal off the line early in the second half.
LB: Moeka Minami – 7/10 – Appeared nervous from the start and struggled to deal with Hansen but did improve significantly as the game progressed.
RM: Annamaria Serturini – 4/10 – Saw so little of the ball, making creating anything virtually impossible.
CM: Manuela Giugliano – 6/10 – Worked hard off the ball and was only denied a late contender for goal of the season by a top save.
CM: Giada Greggi – 5/10 – Had to play so much without the ball which took its toll.
LM: Emilie Haavi – 6/10 – Gave the ball away too often but made a great chance for Giacinti with determined running in from the touchline and also forced a save from Panos herself.
ST: Andressa Alves – 5/10 – Struggled to get involved against her former club until near the end when she put a glorious chance to equalise wide.
ST: Valentina Giacinti – 6/10 – Always a willing runner and did have chances – probably should have taken one of them.
SUB: Vicky Losada (61′ for Greggi) – 6/10
SUB: Benedetta Glionna (61′ for Serturini) – 6/10
SUB: Lucia Di Guglielmo (66′ for Bartoli) – 6/10
Alessandro Spugna – 8/10 – This was always going to be a tough ask for his team, but they were well drilled and even became more expansive later on.
GK: Sandra Panos (c) – 8/10 – Largely a spectator until the closing stages but did make several decent of saves when needed – especially in stoppage time.
RB: Lucy Bronze – 7/10 – Disappointed she didn’t hit the target with a first half header. Got forward at will in open play. Took a nasty blow to the face in the first half but recovered.
CB: Irene Paredes – 6/10 – Good with distribution. Tested more later on.
CB: Mapi Leon – 7/10 – Played almost like a deep-lying playmaker instead of a centre-back. Also made a crucial defensive intervention to preserve the lead.
LB: Fridolina Rolfo – 6/10 – Occupied a very high position.
CM: Aitana Bonmati – 7/10 – Always looking for spaces in between the lines.
CM: Keira Walsh – 6/10 – Sat at the base of midfield dictating play. Roma bypassed her in the second half with long balls and counter attacks.
CM: Patri Guijarro – 7/10 – Deserves big credit for being able to spot runs into pockets, as she did when Paralluelo broke the deadlock.
RW: Caroline Graham Hansen – 6/10 – Started brightly but became less effective as Minami improved.
ST: Asisat Oshoala – 7/10 – Much brighter and more involved in the second half. Could have had a hat-trick on another day but for multiple saves and a goal-line clearance.
LW: Salma Paralluelo – 8/10 – Looked a danger whenever she got the opportunity to run in space and took her goal with extreme quality and composure.
SUB: Geyse (66′ for Oshoala) – 6/10
SUB: Ana Maria Crnogorcevic (79′ for Paralluelo) – 6/10
SUB: Ingrid Engen (79′ for Guijarro) – 6/10
SUB: Bruna Vilamala (90+2′ for Hansen) – N/A
SUB: Marta Torrejon (90+2′ for Bronze) – N/A
Jonatan Giraldez – 7/10 – Restored his strongest XI after a rotated side faced Valencia last Friday.
Player of the match – Salma Paralluelo (Barcelona)
Strasbourg 1-1 PSG: Player ratings as Les Parisiens clinch Ligue 1 title
Paris Saint-Germain won a record 11th Ligue 1 title after drawing 1-1 at Strasbourg on Saturday night.
Les Parisiens now have an unassailable four-point lead over Lens – who have now secured qualification to the group stages of the Champions League – heading into the final matchday of the season next week.
The visitors looked to beat their hosts with balls over the top for Kylian Mbappe early on but they nearly fell behind when Habibou Diallo managed to beautifully bring a high ball down and dance past Danilo Pereira, only to be denied by a smart save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Mbappe’s first actual chance saw him skip and prance away from a slieu of Strasbourg defenders, only to be denied a near-certain goal by a challenge from Ismael Doukoure.
From the resulting corner, Lionel Messi pulled the ball back for Renato Sanches to volley, with Matz Sels coming up with an instinctive save.
PSG were struggling to deal with Strasbourg’s bombardment, with Diallo thundering a shot against the post via a hand from Donnarumma after Mouhamadou Diarra beat Sergio Ramos in an aerial duel.
But the visitors took the lead on the hour mark. Danilo’s long ball over the top was expertly brought under control by Mbappe, and he teed up Lionel Messi to fire home.
Mbappe should have doubled PSG’s lead when Messi returned the favour minutes later, but he somehow fired wide from a few yards out.
With ten minutes to go, the Ligue 1 leaders were pegged back by a familiar face. Morgan Sanson’s strike was palmed away by Donnarumma, and Kevin Gameiro nipped in front of Danilo to tap into an empty net.
Once more, Mbappe was released on goal by Messi but this time was denied by Sels as the game entered the closing stages.
With Strasbourg’s safety secured with a point, both sides were happy to play out for the draw in two minutes of stoppage time, with PSG’s title confirmed at the final whistle.
GK: Matz Sels (6); CB: Ismael Doukoure (6), CB: Gerzino Nyamsi (6), CB: Lucas Perrin (5); RM: Colin Dagba (5), CM: Ibrahima Sissoko (6), CM: Morgan Sanson (5), LM: Frederic Guilbert (5); RF: Mouhamadou Diarra (6), LF: Jean-Richer Bellegarde (5), CF: Habibou Diallo (6)
SUBS: Dimitri Lienard (5), Kevin Gameiro (7)
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 7/10 – Kept PSG in the game with some stunning stops in the first half.
CB: Danilo Pereira – 5/10 – Looked a little ropey throughout, though his pinpoint pass led to Messi’s opener.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 5/10 – Thrown around by Diarra and Diallo in physical duels.
CB: El Chadaille Bitshiabu – 6/10 – Up for the fight physically but Gameiro was able to ghost in on his side to score the equaliser.
RM: Warren Zaire-Emery – 7/10 – Played with a maturity and fearlessness beyond his 17 years of age.
CM: Vitinha – 5/10 – Did not stand out in the midfield battle, again.
CM: Marco Verratti – 6/10 – Played at a lower intensity than usual but given the circumstances that was understandable.
CM: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Made more inroads than compatriot Vitinha, but that wasn’t a particularly high bar to clear.
LM: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – Stretched play but like many of his teammates wasn’t outstanding in his efforts.
CF: Lionel Messi – 9/10 – Picked apart Strasbourg at will. Now the all-time record scorer in Europe’s top five leagues and he overtook Cristiano Ronaldo in style.
CF: Kylian Mbappe – 8/10 – Twisted and contorted himself to flee trailing Strasbourg’s legs. Major criticism is his finishing was a tad off but it didn’t really prove crucial.
Carlos Soler (84′ for Vitinha) – N/A
Christophe Galtier – 6/10 – PSG didn’t really need to win and they didn’t spare any effort that was otherwise needed.
Player of the match – Lionel Messi (PSG)
Messi breaks Ronaldo’s record for most goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues
Lionel Messi has smashed the record for most goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues after he scored in PSG’s Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Saturday.
Les Parisiens all but secured the French title thanks to Messi’s 496th league goal of his career, overtaking the number put up by Cristiano Ronaldo.
A lofty through ball from Danilo Pereira was taken in stride by Kylian Mbappe, who picked out the run of Messi and he fired past Matz Sels to take home his newest accolade.
The Argentine managed to equal Ronaldo’s record when he scored against title rivals Lens last month, but he’s had to wait a while to move in front of his Portuguese rival in part due to serving a club suspension for travelling to Saudi Arabia on a training day.
Messi was back to his best this weekend though and he ends it as a two-time champion of France and the greatest scorer this continent has seen.
Stat in Europe’s top five leagues
When competing directly with Ronaldo for the record back in 2020, Messi stated: “I think less and less about scoring goals.
“Obviously I like scoring, and If have a chance I’ll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I’m less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I’ve never been obsessed with goals.”
Messi is likely to return to Barcelona this summer, though he does have a lucrative offer to reunite with Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League.
Mohamed Salah’s record in the Europa League
Though Liverpool have become accustomed to the Champions League, their star man Mohamed Salah is no stranger to Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League.
Jurgen Klopp’s outfit now have time to reflect and recuperate after finishing 5th in the Premier League and out of the Champions League spots for the first time since the 2014/15 campaign.
Unai Emery – now in charge of high-flying Aston Villa – put the sword to Liverpool in the final of the 2015/16 Europa League final, with Coke’s second-half double proving crucial for Sevilla that day.
As they exchange their Tuesday and Wednesday nights for Thursday’s, Klopp, who had pledged to make the Europa League “our competition” will look to Salah in particular to prevent a repeat of that torrid night in Basel seven years ago.
FC Basel plummeted out of the Champions League after failing to meet their aim of reaching the group stage in 2012/13.
The Egyptian King, in the infant years of his career, made more appearances from the bench than he did as a nailed-on starter in Basel’s Europa League campaign but he was a star nonetheless.
Salah scored his first of eventually many goals on the European stage in the quarter-finals as Basel edged past Tottenham on penalties after drawing 4-4 on aggregate scoring.
His scoring exploits did not halt there as his future employers Chelsea were at the hands of a Salah double in west London. Although the Egypt international crashed out of the competition thanks to the Blues, his Europa League showings earned him a rightful move to the English giants a few months later.
Salah helped Basel to their best-ever finish in the competition, performing when it mattered the most and often being the difference-maker.
Wedged in between his other two Europa League campaigns came his least successful one, with just a goal and assist apiece.
12 days after scoring his first goal for the club against Sassuolo, Salah added one to his European CV against, once again, Tottenham. Spurs had become a familiar sight for the tricky winger and a match-up that he flourished in.
Bearing in mind his spell in Fiorentina was merely a loan, Salah enjoyed positivity for the majority of the season and spurred his side into the semi-finals of the Europa League. His influence – goals aside – was undeniable, though his game time was limited on the centre stage.
A theme begins to reoccur with Salah and the Europa League as he helped Fiorentina – very much a surprise package of the 2014/15 Europa League season – reach the semi-finals of the competition for only the third time in the entirety of the club’s history.
Salah’s most recent Europa League campaign came just before his high-profile move to Liverpool, featuring in six games for Roma in 2016/17.
The Italian side endured a torrid campaign in Europe, preventing Salah from showing the footballing world his undeniable talent. Domestically, Roma finished in second place and secured themselves a spot at Europe’s top table for the following campaign, but cracked under pressure when vying for European silverware in the same season.
Neither goal amounted for anything in this term, either. Roma’s four-goal thumping over West Ham’s conquerors in Astra Giurgiu was already wrapped up before Salah’s effort came, and he managed to grab his second of the competition in a last 16 defeat to Lyon.
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