PSG 1-1 Chelsea: Blues weather second-half storm to escape with draw

first_img Goalscorers Edinson Cavani and Branislav Ivanovic battle for the ball A flustered Chelsea managed to cling on to claim a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in a rough-and-tumble first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.Jose Mourinho’s Blues were second best throughout the encounter and appeared uncharacteristically unorganised at times, with Thibaut Courtois making a series a fine saves to deny Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Blaise Matuidi.Nevertheless, despite rarely posing a threat in the opening 30 minutes, it was Chelsea who took a first-half lead through Branislav Ivanovic’s header, assisted by an inspired backheeled flick from Gary Cahill.PSG has chances to hit back before the break but it was a lead the visitors held, though it took little time for the hosts to equalise after the re-start.The Blues’ back-four were caught asleep on more than one occasion but often managed to scrap themselves out of danger, but that wasn’t the case when another lapse allowed Cavani to ghost in the box unmarked to head home Matuidi’s cross on 54 minutes.It was a thoroughly one-sided affair from that point, with Courtois twice denying Ibrahimovic as well as former Chelsea man David Luiz, but the stubborn Premier League side managed to hold on to escape with a decent result ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge.Both teams appeared very guarded in a slow start at the Parc des Princes, but the game suddenly burst into life as Courtois was forced into back-to-back saves to deny towering headers from Matuidi and Ibrahimovic.PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was soon called into action to pluck Hazard’s cross-cum-shot out of the air, and he was on hand again moments later to punch out a dangerous free-kick, with Cesc Fabregas aiming for John Terry in the area.It was a rare venture in their opponents’ box from Chelsea and their opening goal, scoring with their first shot on target, came as a cruel blow for the hosts, who had created all the game’s best chances.It was an unlikely combination for the goal, too, as defensive trio Terry, Cahill and Ivanovic linked up to put the Blues in front, Terry’s cross magnificently flicked on by Cahill on the edge of the box, with Ivanovic arriving from deep to loop a header into the net.Ibrihamovich has a good chance to ensure his side went into the break level with a free-kick from a dangerous position, but – after David Luiz remarkably wiped off the referee’s marking foam and moved the ball closer to the goal – the Swedish star arrowed his strike over the bar.It seemed another ‘park the bus’ performance could see Chelsea come away with a welcomed away result, but PSG havent lost at home in Europe since 2006 and they were level moments after the break thanks to Cavani.The enigmatic Ibrahimovic has often overshadowed Cavani throughout their forward partnership but it was Uruguayan who starred here, orchestrating all of the hosts’ best attacking moves and scoring his sixth goal in seven Champions League games with a thumping close-range header.It was poor defending from Chelsea, with Cahill allowing the forward far too much space in the box, and, with the returning Diego Costa out of sorts following his three match ban, they lacked attacking presence to reclaim their lead, despite the best efforts of the lively Eden Hazard.The Parisians were rampant in the remaining minutes but were frustrated by a mix of sublime goalkeeping and fortunate defending, Courtois saving from Ibrahimovic after some silky footwork saw the forward clean through on goal, with Cesar Azpilicueta then clearing off the line to deny Ezequiel Lavezzi on the rebound.It appeared Chelsea’s scrambling efforts were to be for nothing, though, when Cavani twinkletoed around two defenders to go through one-on-one in the box, only for the forward to toe poke his shot just wide of the post.And a frantic finale concluded when Ibrahimovic again saw a header well tipped away by Courtois, as Mourinho’s men managed to hold on. 1last_img

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