Barcelona coach Luis Enrique dedicated his side’s historic comeback against Paris St-Germain to those who doubted they could do it.
Trailing 4-0 from the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with PSG, Barcelona completed one of the most astonishing comebacks the competition has ever seen after thrashing Unai Emery’s side 6-1 to win the tie 6-5 on aggregate.
“I would like to emphasise those who didn’t have the faith when we lost 4-0 [in the first-leg],” Enrique said. “This is dedicated to them because we are not the Harlem Globe Trotters, this is football. I do not think any of us stopped believing. The team were spectacular. We were rewarded in the end.
“This is a unique sport. Unique. I can only imagine the children coming tonight, a night they will never forget.”
It was a night no-one will forget with Lionel Messi in tears as he hugged Enrique – who has already announced he is quitting at the end of the season – at the final whistle.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “No, I cannot believe it. It was really impossible. 15-20 minutes after the game, it is crazy and unbelievable.
“The first game in Paris was hard for us, a lot of people spoke hard with our team but the reaction was special. It is history. We want to keep going on.
“We had to believe. 4-0 was hard, but it is football. We saw it in the Super Bowl, what is possible in sport. Today was crazy. This is Barcelona, the best team in the world and we want to continue our dream in the Champions League.”
Gerard Pique was even more colourful: “I have lived the goal of (Andres) Iniesta (in the last minute of the Champions League semi-final) at Stamford Bridge (against Chelsea in 2009) but it does not compare to today.
“It’s one thing to score a goal in the 95th minute, three in seven minutes. One can speak of miracle. Tonight I am going to party even though I have training tomorrow… They hire many nurses in hospitals for these times because today you’re going to make love a lot.”
Team-mate Samuel Umtiti added: “I’ve never experienced anything like that. The coach asked us [before the game] if we’d already pulled off a ‘remontada’ and nearly no one said ‘yes’. We did what the coach wanted.”
(A jubilant Luis Suarez finds a lemon)
For PSG the result was devastating and may have ramifications for the future of coach Emery who appeared shell-shocked and was questioned over how responsible he was for his team’s exit.
“When we analyse it, it is true that we have missed a major opportunity,” he said. “The refereeing decisions went against us and we lost everything in the closing minutes. Barcelona are capable of doing that. It was all or nothing for them in the final minutes.”