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Benfica held firm to deny PSG a Europa League quarter-final place, by virtue of a 1-1 draw in Paris on Thursday evening to secure a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Nicolas Gaitan smashed in from 18 yards to give the Eagles the lead and further increase their lead on aggregate after the Argentine took advantage of some poor positioning by PSG goalkeeper Apoula Edel.Mathieu Bodmer equliased for the Parisiens when he volleyed in the equaliser in the 35th minute, but two shocking misses from Guillaume Hoarau and Mevlut Erding had already sealed their fate in the second half as the hosts were made to rue their wastefulness.

In a closely fought match, it was the home side that had the better of the opening chances at Parc des Princes as early as the first minute when Christophe Jallet headed wide from a Nene cross. Les Parisiens continued to signal their intent when Jallet’s drilled cross from the right was pulled back superbly by Nene, yet an alert Benfica defence neutralised the threat.

PSG-Benfica (Europa league)

The dominance continued when Nene got in behind the Eagles defence yet again and pulled the ball back to Clement Chantome who, after one heavy touch, saw the chance completely evaporate as Benfica looked to stem the early onslaught. The visitors had their first real effort on goal when PSG goalkeeper Apoula Edel was caught out from a cross, but Javi Garcia’s effort was sent high and wide.

Against the run of play, Benfica nudged ahead when PSG were caught in possession and Javi Garcia surged forward, setting the ball up for Nicolas Gaitan who, after initially going for a cross, bamboozled Edel and instead fired a shot which caught the Cameroonian keeper out on his near post to send the Aguilas further ahead on aggregate.

A shell-shocked PSG side surged forward after that setback, but couldn’t find the net when Bodmer slipped in a delightful through ball to Mevlut Erding. However, the Turkish striker couldn’t direct it past Roberto.

They got their goal soon afterwards as a wonderful team move, culminated in Ceara’s cross being cushioned down by Erding, and Bodmer smashed in the equaliser ten minutes before half-time to send the home support into raptures. They almost went ahead just before half-time when a quick freekick caught Benfica off-guard, but Nene’s 25-yard piledriver went agonisingly close.

Into the second half, and Oscar Cardozo wasted an opportunity to put the Eagles ahead when Aimar nutmegged Sakho before Coentrao slid the ball into the Paraguyan who lifted his shot over the bar. Moments later, the highly-rated Portuguese left back went on a mazy run and lifted the ball to Cardozo, who set up his shot superbly before forcing Edel into a fine save.

The hosts’ best chance of the game came and went abruptly in the 63rd minute when a brilliant cross from the left found Erding in acres of space behind Benfica’s defence, yet the Turkish forward produced a shocking miss from two yards despite being offside as the crowd inside Parc des Princes grew concerned.

Antoine Koumbouare sent Guillaume Hoarau on for Erding amid a chorus of boos as well as Ludovic Giuly for goalscorer Bodmer in a desperate attempt to avoid elimination and it almost proved a masterstroke as Hoarau flashed a header wide upon introduction, but the French international also missed a glaring chance late on after substitute Jean-Faudel Maurice’s overhead kick was deflected into the path of Hoarau from four yards out, but Roberto dived in front outstandingly to deny Les Parisiens.

PSG were to rue their profligacy in front of goal in the 95th minute when Maurice fired straight at Roberto in the dying seconds as the Eagles held firm to book their place in tomorrow’s Europa League draw.

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