Kovacic: Real Madrid 'is born to play in the Champions League'

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (L) vies for the ball with Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid on March 6, 2018, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP / Getty

Real Madrid professionally booted Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League on Tuesday, inflicting this season’s first home defeat on Ligue 1’s runaway leader.

Related: Real Madrid eases into quarter-finals with comfortable win over PSG

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro either side of Edinson Cavani’s consolation completed a straightforward 5-2 aggregate victory. The host’s frustration at not being able to get a foothold in the game was evident when Marco Verratti was given a second yellow card after haranguing referee Felix Brych.

“It feels good. It was a difficult game. They play nice football. But we played well,” Mateo Kovacic told BT Sport, as reported by BBC Sport.

“They had the ball more than us but we were very aggressive. It’s difficult to beat us when we play like that. It’s amazing how it’s changed when we play in the Champions League.

“This club is born to play in the Champions League.”

Despite managing four tackles before his 71st-minute withdrawal for Toni Kroos, Kovacic was outshone by his midfield partner Casemiro. The Brazilian lost possession with just one of his 80 touches, played 57 passes, created two chances, and registered on the scoresheet with a heavily deflected effort.

Real Madrid is seeking its third consecutive Champions League title. It is likely to be Los Blancos’ only remaining shot at silverware after the Club World Cup triumph in December and the Supercopa de Espana success four months earlier. Zinedine Zidane’s team is 15 points adrift of table-topping Barcelona in La Liga and was turfed out of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals by Leganes.

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