Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat in Paris has left the Last 16 tie delicately poised before the return leg, after Edinson Cavani snatched the victory to put the Parisians noses in front.
The game begun with a 15 minute wave of PSG pressure and all fans must have feared the worse, but the Blues quickly came back into the game once Cesc Fabregas and Willian managed to take control of the midfield. Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi are possibly the best midfield triumvirate in the world, but Chelsea’s midfield manage to dominate for much of the first half, once they had got a foothold in the game.
Quite against the run of play, Lucas Moura, as he did several times, burnt through Chelsea’s midfield and was taken down by a clumsy challenge from John Obi Mikel. The resulting free-kick was fired in by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, via a deflection from Mikel, who had been part of a jumping wall that did nothing other than distract Thibaut Courtois.
Just before half-time, Willian had a free-kick blocked by the PSG wall (who did their job far more effectively) and Chelsea managed to equalise from the resulting corner. In typical fashion, it was Mikel who levelled the game up as the ball dropped to him six yards out and the Nigerian midfield man scored a rare goal to take the Blues in at half time in good spirits. Earlier in the half, Kevin Trapp had denied a Diego Costa header with a stunning reflex save as the Blues posed problems throughout the half with the tireless running and perfect decision making of Willian, who was superb once more.
The second half begun in a similarly exciting fashion, as both teams flew at each other with attacks coming freely for both sides throughout the half. Set pieces continued to pose Chelsea’s best threat, but some prolonged spells of possession reminded PSG that the Blues could choose to dominate the ball when it suited them.
The balance of the tie begun to shift from about the 60th minute, as the French side piled on the pressure and Laurent Blanc introduced Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan did not take long to have his impact on the game as a placed the ball through Thibaut Courtois’ legs as the Belgian keeper made a tame effort to stop the ball.
Heroic performances from Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic cannot go unnoticed and the injuries to both Kurt Zouma and John Terry are clearly not the disaster that some may have thought.
The remaider of the game continued to see attacks flow for both teams and Oscar, who had replaced a disappointing Eden Hazard, had the best chance to level the scores when he was released off the shoulder of Marquinhos by a sublime Cesc Fabregas ball. The Brazilian could not reach his toe to take the ball round Trapp and a player who was more up to the pace of the game could’ve made the difference there.
In the dying embers of the match, Pedro thrashed a half volley into the side netting after a classy switch of play from Willian, but the Blues were left with just the one goal against two quality centre-backs.
Fortunately, the Blues avoided the late third goal, unlike two seasons ago, but Javier Pastore’s late arrival from the bench is a reflection of the great depth in the PSG squad.
Hiddink’s side have every chance of turning the deficit around at Stamford Bridge, but they will continue to be concerned by the form of Eden Hazard.
Contribution from Sam Cox