Chelsea suffered a defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash with PSG on Tuesday, but they managed to score what could prove a crucial away goal in the process. The Blues went behind after a Zlatan Ibrahimovic free kick in the first half, only for John Obi Mikel to get an equaliser. The Blues were holding firm against the attacking pressure, but they broke with just over 10 minutes to go, as Edinson Cavani hit the winner for the French champions.
Chelsea headed in to this game on the back of a defensive crisis, with John Terry limping off against Newcastle. He joined long term absentee Kurt Zouma on the sidelines, so Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill played at centre back. Nemanja Matic was another big absentee. The Serbian was suspended for this tie, meaning Hiddink had to switch from his usual defensive midfield pairing.
PSG had the better of the early stages of the game, but as the half progressed the Blues started to show more going forward. Diego Costa forced a save from Kevin Trapp, as his header was tipped onto the bar and out to safety.
Despite imposing themselves on the game, it wasn’t Chelsea who took the lead here. Mikel brought down Lucas as he was charging towards the penalty box, giving the French side a free kick in a good position. Ibrahimovic stepped up to take it, and his low strike took a huge deflection off Mikel, which wrong footed and beat Thibaut Courtois.
Mikel made amends before half time, as he gave Chelsea an away goal right before the break. Willian’s free kick went out for a corner, and the Brazilian stepped up and swung it into the box. The ball fell for Mikel, not one to usually attack corners, and the Nigerian took it down before smashing home. That was the last kick of the half, and it completely changed the two managers’ half time team talks.
The Blues had to withstand a barrage of attacks in the second half, as PSG looked to get themselves back ahead. The Premier League side were able to pick out a few counter attacking moves, but PSG were dominating possession, and looking the likelier of the two to score. That really tested the makeshift back four, which needed Ivanovic barking orders to keep it in line.
Both sides made attacking changes with the game level. Oscar came on for a rather tepid Eden Hazard while PSG replaced Lucas with Cavani. It was the Uruguayan who had the biggest impact, as he put the French side ahead with just 12 minutes to go. Courtois could have done much more, as the strike went through his legs and into the goal.
While Guus Hiddink would have liked to keep his unbeaten record intact, he’ll be pleased with the result and display here. His side were always in the game, and they are still in this one, taking an away goal back to the Bridge for the second half of the tie.
LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa