Why am I writing about this now? Well, because this game will stay etched in our memories for time immemorial.
The day when football showed us its true colours, its beauty and finesse, and it’s unpredictability.
Yes, among the teams involved was a certain FC Barcelona, but even a team with Messi, Suarez and Neymar as the attacking trio was not supposed to overcome the debilitating 4-0 defeat in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League.
But it happened. It happened, as if it was a Mozart’s concerto, poetically, laced with emotion, poignance, urgency, and that added bit of drama.
The match started, and on the big screen, the confidence jolting words- AGG. 4-0.
The whistle blew. The game started. And before we could settle in, 3rd minute, Goal. Suarez latched on to that loose ball and nodded it past the keeper.
Some hope. Then, Minuto 40. Iniesta, a smart backheel which deflected off poor Kurzawa into his own net. 2-0 to Barca, 2-4 on aggregate to PSG. After half time, Barca kept on pressing, and again, rewarded. Neymar was dutifully tripped inside the box, and who else but Leo Messi, to convert the penalty. 3-0 to Barca. Camp Nou was in raptures. Yup. 50th minute, but Barca almost already overcame the deficit, with almost nothing in reply from PSG. The fans were pretty much sure now, that Barca would do it.
Then came Edinson Cavani. The Burly Uruguayan with a keen eye for goal. He waited in the box, as PSG’s first attack with some teeth came to fruition. Cavani, the calm customer that he is, calmly volleyed into the roof of the net. 5-3 on aggregate to PSG,and probably game over for Barcelona.
Stoned silence in the stadium, as now Barca had to score three goals in less than 30 minutes to overcome the might of Paris Saint-Germain. Well. Not rosy. To top that, PSG now had Di Maria on as a sub, and the away team started making inroads, with Di Maria and Cavani missing clear chances when put through on goal.
Then came the six minutes that rewrote football history. 88th minute. Foul on the edge of the box, and Neymar to take the freekick. No, not Messi. And then, as cool as you like it, a curler into the top left corner, the PSG keeper just staring wide mouthed. 4-1 in the second leg.
Then came another moment. A deep ball from Messi, and a nudge from Marquinhos. Suarez, fouled. Penalty. Neymar stepped up, sent Trapp the wrong way. 5-5 on aggregate, 4 minutes of stoppage time to go, with the game really in Neymar’s hands.
As the 90+5′ mark came, Barcelona put up rampant pressure on PSG’s goal. Neymar again, this tome putting in a long ball, and then Sergi Roberto, at the end of it, calmly nudging it into the net, sending the Nou Camp into rapturous and absolutely deafening celebrations. 6-5 on aggregate, the greatest comeback in Champions League history. The catalyst? A certain Brazilian who was in the shadow of Leo Messi since a long time. Neymar Jr, take a bow. ‘Il fenomeno’ too would be proud.