Paris Saint-Germain looked to be cruising to the Champions League quarterfinals with a 2-0 lead after 90 minutes at the Mestalla, but a crazy end to the game saw their lead cut in half and star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic given a straight red for a needless foul.
It didn't have to go that way for the visitors. It was beyond obvious that Valencia couldn't cope with the quality that PSG's attacking quintet of Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore could offer, and with Marco Veratti pulling the strings behind them the hosts' goal was under threat every time the ball was in their half.
Their only recourse was to kick PSG whenever they had the chance, which succeeded only in annoying them. Lucas Moura was particularly impressive, and the Brazilian came up with the first real chance of the game when he hammered Vicente Guaita's right-hand post from range, a shot that came after Adil Rami had launched Ibrahimovic airborne with a rather nasty-looking tackle.
A goal soon followed. Lavezzi and Pastore exchanged a neat one-two outside the box before the former Napoli man danced past Ricardo Costa and let fly with a powerful right-footed shot that a startled Guaita let go straight through his hands. The keeper was also at fault for PSG's second, which saw Lucas Moura turn definitely-not-a-left-back Andres Guardado inside out on the right channel before cutting the ball back to the bizarrely-unmarked Pastore, whose saveable shot went straight through Guaita's legs.
Valencia's attacking efforts were best summed up by Roberto Soldado, who tried to catch Salvatore Sirigu off his line after a turnover in midfield only to send his long-range lob out for a throw-in a full 20 yards up the touchline. Ernesto Valverde more or less waved the white flag at halftime by withdrawing both Ever Banega and Jonas for Sergio Canales and Nelson Valdez coming on in their place.
Lucas Moura was forced off just after halftime, which reduced the match's potential for fun. It didn't, however, do anything to prevent basic errors from Guaita, who managed to present Lavezzi with a rebound from a powerful Ibrahimovic shot only for the Argentinian to hit wide when he ought to have scored. That chance came immediately after Valencia's best attacking move of the match, which could easily have seen Soldado net if not for a poor first touch.
Lavezzi followed up his miss with an even more hilarious effort, breaking through the Los Che lines before dinking a tame effort straight into the relieved and slightly baffled Guaita's arms. The goalkeeper tried to make up for his save by dropping a Lavezzi cross onto Ibrahimovic's right foot, but the Swede rather understandably was slow to react to this unexpected act of charity and the chance vanished.
Substitute Clément Chantome saw an effort ruled out for offside a little later following a scramble in front of goal that featured some divine touches from Ibrahimovic, a decision which was rendered rather unfortunate by the fact that a Valencia defender got the penultimate touch. Valencia's reply should probably have resulted in a goal, but Ricardo Costa's beautifully weighted pass was wasted by Valdez hammering into the side netting.
And then, suddenly, hope!
Rami headed home a free kick in stoppage time to pull a goal back for the hosts, and more good news followed when Ibrahimovic lost his head and saw red for a stamp on Daniel Parejo, an action which will ensure he misses the return leg at the Parc des Princes. After being so thoroughly beaten over 90 minutes, Valencia now have a real chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, especially with Veratti suspended as well. How very odd.