Defeat never tasted so good for Paris Saint-Germain.
They might have lost the second leg of their quarter-final with Bayern Munich 1-0, but they emerged victorious on the away goals rule thanks to their blistering counterattacking work in Bavaria six days before.
Indeed, the performance from Mauricio Pochettino’s side was unquestionably stronger, even in defeat, with Neymar near the very top of his game as he teased the Bayern defence, striking the framework of the goal twice, forcing Manuel Neuer into a heroic first-half save and threading through passes that his team-mates were just unable to profit from.
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The meaning of this victory will not be lost on those around Parc des Princes.
Indeed, it is arguably the most significant that PSG have achieved since the QSI takeover nearly a decade ago, doing much to heal the scars of last August, when they lost 1-0 to Bayern in the Champions League final, but also of previous European Cup traumas.
First, there was La Remontada, when a Neymar-inspired Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit with a blitz of late goals. Then came Manchester United. With PSG much the stronger of the two sides, they were eliminated by a controversial last-minute penalty awarded at Parc des Princes.
The inability of Pochettino’s side to put Bayern away on Tuesday left them vulnerable to another such mishap.
Indeed, when Leroy Sane found space in the box late on, he might easily have picked out a team-mate for an easy finish. Instead, Keylor Navas, immense in Munich, though perhaps questionable prior to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s headed opener on Tuesday, was smartly down to clutch the ball.
And this was an evening upon which they might easily have buckled.
There were certainly ghosts of years past in the manner in which PSG fell behind. Neymar planted a one-on-one opportunity – the best of the game – against the face of the post and within seconds Bayern had swept to the other side to scramble an ugly but precious opener.
However, it was to be the reigning champions’ only goal of the match.
Much was made of the injury problems that Bayern were facing prior to the game, yet PSG were stretched themselves. They finished the game – just as they had the first leg – with third-choice options in both full-back slots and a defensive midfielder in the form of Danilo playing as a makeshift centre-back.
All distinguished themselves, despite momentary jitters, in the face of a Bayern side that applied impressive pressure both with and without the ball.
At the other end of the field, the insouciance of Neymar helped to settle any nerves. So often an injury-enforced absentee in the past upon these big nights, his willingness to get on the ball and his carefree flair brought more than a touch of class to proceedings, giving confidence to those around him.
All that was missing from Neymar’s display was a goal.
But both he and PSG will come again in the semi-finals. Barcelona and Bayern Munich have already been eliminated, up next may well be Manchester City as PSG attempt to negotiate a draw that has pitted them against the very best in successive rounds.
It is a case of two down, two to go, and PSG and Neymar are looking as mentally tough as ever.