TUESDAY 8TH APRIL 2014 – LAST 8 SECOND LEG
CHELSEA 2-0 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Aggregate 3-3 – Chelsea win on away goals
In a typically spiky pre-match interview, Jose Mourinho declared that the first leg of this game, which his side lost 3-1, was a “false result” and that only defensive errors had cost his team last week in Paris. His mood, possibly spurred on by the loss to injury of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for PSG, was one of conviction and determination – and it was one adopted by his side in this tense encounter.
Stamford Bridge was nervous, underneath the noise and superb welcome for the teams was a nervy atmosphere, which was reflected in the early play. With Cavani moved to a central role in Zlatan’s absence, and Mourinho opting for a recognised striker – the Champions League veteran Samuel E’to – both teams started cautiously, keeping the ball and playing up to their front-men.
It was eight minute sin before the first real sign of danger – Oscar wriggling free of some tight marking within the area and squeezing a ball across the area to E’to, whose shot was deflected for a corner.
PSG were attempting to play the ball around and keep possession as much as possible. The central midfield layers clearly under orders to not venture too far, it was up to Lucas Moura and Blaise Matuidi to probe into the opposition territory while Edinson Cavani roamed across the line.
On 12 minutes, their attempts to keep possession at all costs almost led to trouble, as they were forced to play the ball backwards through midfield and defence, and finally to goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. The resulting ball to the goalkeeper was played a little short and he in turn dallied over his attempts to switch feet, allowing E’to time to bear down on the Italian goalkeeper.
Fortunately the moment assed as E’to barged the keeper down and was punished. Moments later, Ezequiel Lavezzi , man of the match in Paris last Wednesday, did well to beat Branislav Ivanovich out wide, but his low cross was cut out before Cavani could pounce.
Chelsea suffered a blow – possibly to their league challenge too – in the 16th minute when Eden Hazard pulled up with what appeared to be a thigh injury. The Belgian limped from the field and directly down the tunnel, to be replaced by Andre Schurrle.
PSG made chances for themselves, Lavezzi again getting to the byline and producing a cross which was too long, and then some excellent passing & movement, instigated by Lucas, resulting in a free-kick directly in front of goal which Cavani could only use to sting the Chelsea wall.
Oscar, looking danger down Chelsea’s left side, made moves to turn Veratti inside out on 26 minutes, and the Italian brought him down cynically to concede a dangerous wide free-kick. Frank Lampard’s set=piece was deflected by the Frenchmen’s wall, and needed a fine save from Sirigu to keep the score 0-0.
However, moments later the deadlock was broken. A static PSG defence watched on as Chelsea lined up a long throw in. With little movement from the defenders, David Luiz had time to stoop and flick on a header which landed the ball nicely at substitute Andre Schurrle’s feet. The young German, wasted in a lone forward role in the first leg, needed little invitation and calmly slotted the ball into the right hand corner, with Sirigu motionless.
A couple of half chances fell Chelsea’s way before the break as Schurrle made a dubious claim for a penalty, and Gary Cahill found himself with time to shoot inside the area from another Lampard set-piece. His shot however was high and wide, and the half drew to a close with the home side holding on to a narrow lead.
For all of Paris Saint-Germain’s possession in the first half, they looked increasingly like a team who were trying to convince themselves of their own assuredness, and conceding a goal had shaken their belief.
Chelsea, sensing their chances of a turnaround, came out looking for the goal that would see them through after the break, and on 51’ Willian showed nice footwork to play in Schurrle on the edge of the box. His shot was lashed towards goal but could only find the crossbar of Sirigu’s goal.
From the resulting scramble, a high rebound led to a clumsy foul by Lucas (who was booked) and the following free-kick from Oscar again rattled the awaiting crossbar. Two close shaves for Paris and the home crowd urged their team on, feeling the upset was certainly possible now.
Both teams saw half chances missed – with Lavezzi’s whipped free-kick palmed away by Cech, and Schurrle again shooting directly at the PSG goalkeeper from a Ba knock-down. Demba Ba himself had joined the fray as a replacement for Lampard, and looked a more physical threat at the front for Chelsea as they pushed for the win.
PSG substitute Yohan Cabaye almost sparked some life into the Parisiens with a beautifully weighted ball from the halfway line which landed perfectly for Cavani, rushing into the 18 yard box on a curving run. However the Uruguayan’s shot could not match the set-up and he watched his effort sail high over the bar.
The Paris club then produced the best spell of football in the match, after 79 minutes, when Pastore cleared froma Chelsea freekick with a long ball. The loose effort was chased down and won by the ever-willing Lucas, who cut back and played the ball to the now on-rushing Pastore. He sprayed the ball across the midfield, where Maxwell joined the attack, followed by Cavani and Cabaye.
The former Newcastle man dummied a shot on the edge before playing it back to Lucas who struck a fierce effort which Petr Cech was lucky to hold on to. However, Chelsea were back on the front foot immediately and the pressure in the final 10 minutes began to build.
Mourinho’s men had been patient and finally on 84 minutes they got their reward. A lofted ball forward by Cahill was not cleared sufficiently by Alex, and E’to managed to take down the ball and turn within the area. He duly rolled a pass to the on-rushing Azpilicueta to shoot.
The full-backs’ effort was not on target, however, after fizzing through the legs of Javier Pastore, it took a wicked deflection from the reliable Jallett, and found it’s way perfectly to the feet of Demba Ba in the six yard box. The striker reacted well, and although he connected with the bridge of his foot and then his shin, the connection was enough to send the ball flying into the roof of the Paris net.
Cue crazy scenes on the pitch as the Chelsea players rushed to celebrate, and Mourinho, repeating his old Porto trick, rushed down the sideline to greet his players.
This time however, the Special One was not there to join in the congratulations, but to dole out advice and instructions for the final moments. PSG made one last surge, Alex connecting with a header before Sirigu joined the throng for the obligatory last minute corner.
The resulting melee led to an excellent piece of skill from Motta to unleash Maxwell, who in turn picked out Marquinhos within the 18 yard area. The Brazilian defender shot early towards Cech’s near post, but the big Czech ‘keeper was equal to the effort and turned it wide for a corner – exorcising some of the demons from the first leg when he conceded that late goal at his near post to Pastore’s shot.
With that the referee had seen enough and called time on Laurent Blanc’s teams’ run in this season premier club competition. A strong effort was just not enough against the wily Mourinho, and Chelsea, while still considered underdogs, have proven yet again that they are no pushovers for any team who draws them in the semi-finals.
Click Andrew’s name above to follow him on Twitter