Champions League: Laurent Blanc congratulates his PSG team for a job well done
Laurent Blanc congratulated his PSG team for a job well done after they reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
Last Updated: 13/03/14 12:01am
Fielding a rejigged side on Wednesday night after thrashing Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in the first leg, the hosts beat the German outfit 2-1 to seal a 6-1 aggregate win and, despite a stuttering start, were never really in danger.
Blanc rested his usual midfield of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi, while Marquinhos was handed a start in central defence for Alex.
Full-backs Christophe Jallet and Lucas Digne also got the nod after Gregory van der Wiel was ruled out injured and Maxwell was left out.
Edinson Cavani returned to the starting side at the expense of Lucas while Yohan Cabaye was also given a chance to impress and did, managing an impressive 141 passes and tackling relentlessly to launch PSG's attacks.
Leverkusen took the lead after just six minutes through Sidney Sam, but the hosts quickly responded with Marquinhos heading them level just seven minutes later.
PSG nerves would have been tingling again just before the half-hour when battling Leverkusen won a penalty. Simon Rolfes saw his spot-kick saved by Salvatore Sirigu and PSG did not look back after that.
Ezequiel Lavezzi put them 2-1 ahead on the night at the start of the second half before Leverkusen lost Emre Can to a red card, ending any slim hopes of a possible upset.
"Maybe our difficult start is due to the lack of experience," said Blanc. "We saw that Champions League level is different from French league level."
Marquinhos said: "It went very well for me - I not only started but also proved that I can score.
"It's great for the team. However, we must improve our defensive record. We must work harder on not conceding a goal."
Blanc still expects more from his players, adding: "I'm not saying the mindset was not good, I'm just saying that it's the Champions League and it's a bit harder. But I congratulate them, I'm happy."
PSG still have a round to negotiate to emulate last season's performance when they reached the last four.
"The competition continues. We're entering money time. It's getting serious," said Blanc.
"We're having a good season, it can become a very, very good season."
Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia had praise for his team despite seeing them lose for the sixth time in their last seven matches.
"I'm feeling a bit sorry for the team that we didn't get anything from the game," he said.
"The starting point was difficult after losing 4-0 at home but we can take a lot of confidence for the future."