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Barca Players Told Marco Verratti It Was Over After Cavani Goal. Neymar Didn't Get The Message

An away goal should’ve killed Barcelona, but Neymar played the best seven minutes of football in his life.

Before Wednesday’s historic events at the Camp Nou, everyone had agreed that Barcelona would need to play a perfect match to turn the tide against Paris Saint-Germain. They would need to do unto PSG as PSG had done unto them. Sure, Barcelona could score four goals, but could they keep Edinson Cavani, Lucas Moura, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria off the scoresheet? 

After clawing three goals back by the 55th minute, Barca stood on the precipice of history, needing just one more to send it to extra time. But then the hammer fell, and the dream died. Cavani smashed a half-volley that Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only wave bye-bye to as it flew into the net.

Barcelona hit the one pitfall that they needed to avoid. It was over, and Barcelona players acknowledged that according to PSG midfielder Marco Verratti

“After Edi’s goal, we were calmer. I spoke to the Barca players — they told me it was over. I don’t find any explanation for conceding three goals in five minutes”, he said.

One of the players he mustn’t have spoken to is the explanation for those three goals: Neymar played the most influential seven minutes of football in the history of the sport.

His free kick from the left-hand side of the 18-yard box was the inspiration behind it all. It arrives in the 88th minute and suddenly there’s hope. In the 91st, he steps up and converts a do or die penalty with the same verve as his gold-winning penalty against Germany in the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

But his greatest moment of all is that delicate chip in the box after working a little bit of space for himself. It’s so calm, collected and well-executed during one of the most madcap moments in the history of sport that it’s almost otherworldly. 

Two goals, an assist, four successful dribbles and a willingness to take possession with more frequency than Lionel Messi, Thomas Meunier simply couldn’t handle the Brazilian, and the support he received from both Lucas Moura and Angel Di Maria was nowhere near enough.