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Kylian Mbappé and PSG suffer dent to Champions League dream after defeat to resurgent Barcelona

By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Barcelona secured a 3-2 comeback win away against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie on Wednesday, serving a blow to the Parisians’ hopes of winning their first title.

The Spanish side, looking to flex its muscles in Europe once again, had taken the lead through Raphinha but found itself 2-1 down after the break after two quick goals from the host.

Facing defeat, Raphinha’s smartly taken second goal and Andreas Christensen’s header gave Barcelona the edge going into the second leg on April 16.

“We should be proud to say that Barça is alive,” Barcelona manager Xavi told reporters after the club’s first Champions League quarterfinal match since 2020.

“We understood how we had to work against one of the best teams in the world. It’s a small advantage but a victory that generates even more excitement in our city and with our fans.”

PSG, meanwhile, will be frustrated to throw away the lead in front of its home supporters.

The host had come into the game on a 27-match unbeaten run but faced a resurgent Blaugrana side which managed to shackle PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé.

The French forward, who has six goals in the tournament this season, often looked frustrated at the Parc des Princes as he struggled to stamp his authority on the match.

However, despite going behind, PSG had been in the driver’s seat heading into the last 30 minutes after two goals in the space of three minutes.

Winger Ousmane Dembélé equalized with a vicious strike in the 48th minute, before Vitinha kept his cool to hand his side the lead in the 51st minute.

But Barça hit back with a moment of real quality in the 62nd minute. Midfielder Pedri found Raphinha with a searching pass which the Brazilian tracked over his shoulder before he dispatched a brilliant first-time volley into the bottom corner of the net.

Just 15 minutes later, Barcelona retook the lead when Christensen headed in a corner after the nervous-looking Gianluigi Donnarumma failed to collect the cross.

“It is clear that all defeats hurt and annoy, but I believe we played a good game against a very strong team,” former Barça boss and current PSG manager Luis Enrique told reporters after the final whistle.

“We are only going to change the things that didn’t work, we always have to appreciate what a match of this magnitude means.

“We’re going to Barcelona with a lot of desire. It’s a positive point of view to think that we can win there. It’s going to be a final for us. I’m confident in my team.”

The 3-2 scoreline sets up an enticing second leg at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium in Spain on Tuesday, when a place in the semifinals will be at stake.

The winner will face either Atlético Madrid or Borussia Dortmund in the final four, with the Spanish side taking a 2-1 lead into its second leg in Germany.

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