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Reprieved Ibrahimovic the key man as PSG hold Barca

updated 7:00 PM EDT, Tue April 2, 2013
Ibrahimovic is hugged by goalscorer Blaise Matuidi, who kept PSG in the tie but who will miss the second leg through suspension
Ibrahimovic is hugged by goalscorer Blaise Matuidi, who kept PSG in the tie but who will miss the second leg through suspension
  • Ibrahimovic scores one and makes on as PSG hold Barcelona to a 2-2 draw in Paris
  • Lionel Messi opens the scoring but is forced off with a hamstring injury
  • Bayern Munich impress in a comprehensive 2-0 defeat of Juventus

(CNN) -- He shouldn't even have been playing but Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a vital role in ensuring his side held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw in an engrossing Champions League quarterfinal in the French capital on Tuesday.

The Swede was originally banned for the first leg but after winning an appeal with UEFA last week, the 31-year-old scored PSG's first equalizer before setting up their second for Blaise Matuidi, who scored with the very last kick of an entertaining game.

Barcelona's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta had raised questions about Ibrahimovic's eligibility before the match, after PSG succeeded in halving a two-game ban following the former Barca player's dismissal against Valencia in the Round of 16.

Zubizarreta may have been shaking his head in knowing fashion at the end, as may coach Tito Vilanova who returned to the Barca bench for the first time in two months following cancer treatment as the French league leaders hosted their Spanish counterparts.

The four-time European champions led at halftime with Lionel Messi having converted Dani Alves' exquisite pass after 38 minutes but Barca fans will be worried by the hamstring pull the Argentine suffered at the end of the first period.

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It prevented him from reappearing for the second half and in the absence of a player with 57 goals, Vilanova's side struggled to break down a PSG team who stuck to their game plan, one which featured a surprise call-up for former Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham.

The England man, 37, was playing his first Champions League tie since appearing for Milan in 2010 and departed -- moments after being booked -- with 20 minutes to play, whereupon the drama began to unfold.

Eleven minutes from time, Ibrahimovic -- who signed a five-year deal with Barcelona in 2009 but whose spell at the Nou Camp was so unhappy he left after just twelve months -- converted from close range, despite being in an offside position, as he reacted quickest to a towering header against the post by the outstanding Thiago Silva.

With two minutes left, PSG's hard work seemed empty as Xavi converted a penalty but redemption came in the 94th minute as Ibrahimovic -- who had had a goal disallowed moments earlier -- guided a knockdown to Matuidi, who fired home thanks to a slight deflection.

"They have an amazing team who keep the ball very well but in the first half, we had some amazing chances and if we had put one of them away it could have been different," Beckham told ITV television after the match.

"I think we deserved the draw. I'm enjoying being part of these nights again. They are very special. They don't get better than this. We'll go to their place and it could be difficult, but there's no reason why we can't get a result."

"We all hope Messi is fit and ready to go - we wish him the best," added Beckham, who had warmly embraced the Argentine before the game.

Bayern played better than us for the entire 90 minutes. It was very difficult for us to play our normal game.
Juventus midfielder Andre Pirlo

The late equalizer ensured that PSG -- whose fortunes have immeasurably improved in recent times thanks to the significant spending of the club's Qatari owners -- defended their six-year unbeaten home record in Europe.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have now won just three of their last 15 knock-out ties away from home in the Champions League.

"We have paid a heavy price because we lost Leo Messi and (Javier) Mascherano, who could be out for four to six weeks," said assistant Barca coch Jordi Roura. "With Messi we shall see what the scans say on Wednesday."

"There were also some questionable refereeing decisions and what is not up for debate is that we deserved better. Ibra's goal was certainly offside. I don't know what this will do for PSG's morale in that they twice came back but for us it is a favorable result."

The dramatic finale added extra gloss to a game which PSG, whose average attendances were worryingly low just two years ago, say they could have sold up to a million tickets for, with the club contesting a first Champions League quarterfinal in 18 years -- with the return leg coming next Wednesday.

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In Germany, it was business as usual for Bayern Munich as last year's Champions League runners up hosted Juventus three days after thrashing Hamburg 9-2 in the Bundesliga.

Like the game in Paris, this clash also pitted league leaders against one another -- with Bayern demonstrating their strength in depth by starting with Claudio Pizarro, who netted four goals against Hamburg, on the bench.

The hosts were the far stronger side in Munich and dominated proceedings in a 2-0 win, so much so that they may feel a little aggrieved to only lead by goals from David Alaba -- after 26 seconds -- and Thomas Mueller.

"It was a very intense game and our attacking players invested a lot into defensive work, which displayed great commitment," said goalscorer Mueller. "It's a bit of a shame that we didn't score a third goal."

Bayern were also rocked by a groin injury to Toni Kroos, which could keep the midfielder out for six weeks.

"We know there is still the return leg to play and we can certainly hope for a comeback," rallied Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

"Bayern played better than us for the entire 90 minutes. It was very difficult for us to play our normal game."

By the time they meet again, Bayern may be the German champions as they can wrap up the title on Saturday should the Bundesliga leaders, who have a 20-point lead, win at Eintracht Frankfurt.

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