Chelsea will be the happier of the two teams after securing a 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
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The Premier League leaders took a first half lead through Branislav Ivanovic’s header, but looked increasingly shaky as they match wore on and Edinson Cavani headed home just after the break to make it 1-1.
That’s how the score finished, despite chances for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cavani late on, plus Thibaut Courtois putting in an inspired display in goal, as everything’s still to play for ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 11.
After a tense start to the match Courtois was called into action twice in quick succession after 11 minutes, as he first saved Blaise Matuidi’s header and then another from Ibrahimovic moments later with PSG cranking up the heat.
An even first half played out as Chelsea tried their best to suck the life out of PSG’s attacks and threatened occasionally on the break. In the 33rd minute Cavani made a surging run to the near post from a corner, after breaking away from his marker Nemanja Matic, but his header was clawed out by Courtois.
Chelsea took the lead in the 36th minute as John Terry whipped in a cross from the left which Gary Cahill sumptuously flicked to the back post and Ivanovic headed home. 1-0, as Chelsea’s right back made it three goals in five matches. Before the break Ibrahimovic curled a free kick over the bar, as the Blues went in 1-0 up and in control of the first leg.
Yet that control evaporated just 10 minutes into the second half as Cavani headed home Matuidi’s fine cross from the left to send the home fans wild. 1-1. Moments later PSG almost went ahead as Ibrahimovic went through and forced Courtois into a low save before the rebound fell to Ezequiel Lavezzi but his goalbound shot was blocked by Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea survived.
David Luiz forced Courtois to tip his shot onto the top of the net as it was all PSG in the closing stages of a tense encounter. Cesc Fabregas and Costa (yes, they played) looked rusty as the Blues’ talisman failed to flourish.
Late on Cavani drifted past Matic in the box but his toe poke finish squeezed just wide of, while Courtois saved Ibrahimovic’s header.
Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu; van der Wiel, Silva, Marquinhos, Maxwell; Luiz, Verratti, Matuidi; Lavezzi (Pastore, 81′), Ibrahimovic, Cavani
Goal: Cavani (54′)
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Hazard, Fabregas (Oscar, 83′), Willian (Cuadrado, 79′); Costa (Remy, 82′)
Goal: Ivanovic (36′)