On Wednesday Chelsea drew 2-2 with Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League after extra time, as the French champions advanced to the quarterfinals after winning on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score.
It was a nervy match in west London, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card put Les Parisiens on the back foot early on but they dug deep to secure a famous win at the death.
Here’s three things we learned from an intense encounter at Stamford Bridge, as PSG avenged being dumped out by Chelsea last season.
ZLATAN RED HAMPERS SPECTACLE
Last season Ibrahimovic missed the second leg at Stamford Bridge through injury as PSG was knocked out by Chelsea at the quarterfinal stage. This season, the eccentric Swedish striker lasted just 31 minutes as he was inexplicably shown a straight-red by referee Bjorn Kuipers. The referee had an absolute shocker. Zlatan, 33, slide in as a ball broke loose in midfield and as Oscar arrived you could clearly see PSG’s striker pull his leg away from the challenge. However Kuipers’ mind was already made up as he already had the red card in his hand before Zlatan got to his feet. Laurent Blanc gave Zlatan a pat on the back as he trudged off the pitch in west London but without their main man for the majority of two second legs encounters in a row, the fun had initially been sucked out of another Chelsea vs. PSG matchup until the late drama.
Yes, Zlatan is a hot head and as the stat above shows he has now the highest number of red cards in UCL history. But, as Zlatan will probably tell you himself in the coming hours and days, he didn’t deserve to get sent off.
CHELSEA GET WHAT THEY DESERVE
Whether it was tiredness or due to the fact that Zlatan’s early red card changed the outlook of the match, Chelsea’s players were sluggish and for over 90 minutes it didn’t like as if Jose Mourinho’s side had the extra man as they were punished and knocked out of the Champions League.
Midway through the second half Sky Sports’ color commentator Gary Neville stated that “too many Chelsea players are just walking around out there.” He was right, the Blues failed to have a real go at PSG and were content to sit back and try to go through on away goals after their 1-1 draw in Paris two weeks ago. In the end Gary Cahill scored in the 80th minute to make it 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate, then David Luiz’ header (it just had to be him, didn’t it?) in the 86th minute forced extra time, before Eden Hazard slotted home from the penalty spot to make it 2-1 following Silva’s moment of madness when he handled the box.
Chelsea, try as they might, just couldn’t get going all night, as throughout the second half it was PSG who had a real go at advancing. In the 57th minute Ramires was caught in possession and Edinson Cavani rounded Thibaut Courtois before slamming a shot against the post as two Chelsea player slid in on the goalline to try and stop it. Javier Pastore then forced Courtois into two fine stops in normal time and then again in extra time to deny Thiago Silva’s first header, but the Belgian goalkeeper couldn’t do anything to stop Silva’s looping header in the 114th minute which made it 2-2 on the night and sent PSG through on away goals. Chelsea were stunned, as 10-man PSG got what they deserved. So did Chelsea… which was nothing.
FEISTY ANGLO-FRENCH FIGHT, AS MOURINHO FIRES THINGS UP
Before Chelsea’s home clash with PSG, Mourinho was outspoken about the French sides physicality in the first leg and how much it surprised him.
“This season we have played teams from the Championship, League One and League Two, but the most aggressive team was PSG. For a team with so much quality I expected more football,” Mourinho said. “I thought a team from England would never be surprised by aggression, because aggression is in our country.
“A team with fantastic players was the team making foul after the foul. [PSG] were the team that stopped Eden Hazard with fouls all the time, the team that was attacking the man in possession of the ball with two or three players very aggressively.
Jose wasn’t wrong, was he? Time and time again scuffles broke out in the match as Kuipers totally lost control of proceedings with Diego Costa pushing over Marquinhos late on, but no red card, and PSG’s players threw themselves into challenges as they won. Kuipers will, and should, get plenty of criticism for his performance as he not only made shocking decisions throughout, but failed to keep control of the proceedings. That said, PSG’s 10 players dug deep and that fighting spirit Mourinho earmarked was the key to a famous victory for Blanc’s boys.