Recap: Edinson Cavani gave Paris Saint-Germain a lead to take to Stamford Bridge in three weeks’ time after coming off the bench to give his side a 2-1 win in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie. Just four minutes after making his arrival, the Uruguayan, left out of the starting lineup for Lucas Moura, pealed behind makeshift Chelsea center-back Branislav Ivanovic and beat Thiabaut Courtois with a low finish.
And it was no less than the hosts deserved. Just as they had for the first 20 minutes, PSG had besieged Chelsea’s backline, playing with the type of purpose and intensity that has too often been lacking from their displays against Europe’s elite. This time they fully transferred the dominant form they have shown in racking up a 24-point lead atop Ligue Un.
Yet until Cavani’s strike they had failed to break through after the restart, just as they had during their early pressure. But, while Chelsea survived the initial onslaught, they were undone in the 39th minute from a set-piece. It was a horror show for John Mikel Obi, who firstly gave away the free-kick by bringing down Lucas on the edge of the box and earning a booking , before turning his back on the edge of the wall and seeing Ibrahimovic’s effort deflect into the net off his leg.
Still, Chelsea, missing both captain John Terry and Kurt Zouma at the back, had managed to get a foothold in the contest late in the first half. And, having hit the bar through Diego Costa before falling behind, they shocked the home crowd in first-half injury time. Mikel redeemed himself with a first goal since December 2014 when drilling home from six yards following Costa’s flick on.
PSG, though, simply went back to work in the second period. It required some desperate defending and some crucial saves from Courtois to keep the game level, but Chelsea finally buckled to hand Guus Hiddink his first defeat since taking over on an interim basis two months ago. All is far from lost, though, especially considering the matchups between the two sides in the last two seasons have been decided by away goals.
FULLTIME! PSG 2-1 Chelsea
Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten start to his second spell in charge of Chelsea ends at 11 games, but he has reason to feel relieved that his side are leaving Paris down just 2-1. PSG were the dominant team for almost the entire contest. After John Mikel Obi cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s deflected free-kick, PSG laid siege to the Chelsea penalty area in the second half, finally breaking through when Edinson Cavani came off the bench to beat Thibaut Courtois with 12 minutes remaining. But, having been so dominant, PSG may regret not making it count further. With the away goal in their pocket, Chelsea are far from dead and buried going back for the second leg at Stamford Bridge in three weeks’ time.
92 mins: Pedro almost provides a huge moment in the dying seconds, controlling the ball well on the right of the box, but firing into the side netting.
91 mins: They still do create a chance for a third goal. Ibrahimovic was allowed a free run into the box to meet a deep cross, but Courtois did well to make himself big in the face of the Swede and block his side-foot volley from close range.
89 mins: PSG have taken their foot off the gas just a little since going in front, which they may live to regret given their superiority and the opportunity to get a third goal in the closing minutes.
84 mins: Chelsea have to be careful here not to make their task even tougher heading back to Stamford Bridge. Ibrahimovic’s flick catches out the Chelsea defense, but Cahill does well to recover and deny Marquinhos breaking forward.
Cavani's goal to put PSG 2-1 in front:
81 mins: PSG make their expected change, with Verratti, who Blanc made clear wouldn’t be able to last the full 90 minutes, being replaced by fellow midfielder Adrien Rabiot. That’s quickly followed by Javier Pastore coming on for Matuidi.
GOAL! PSG 2-1 Chelsea (Cavani, 78)
Moments after Chelsea’s substitute failed to take his change, PSG’s new arrival takes full advantage of his. Cavani peeled off superbly behind a dozing Ivanovic to meet Di Maria’s expertly weighted chipped through ball, and, from a difficult angle, the Uruguayan fired between the legs of Courtois and into the Chelsea net.
77 mins: Out of nowhere a big chance for Chelsea. PSF switched off as Fabregas took a quick free-kick on halfway and lofted it forward for the run of Oscar, but the substitute couldn’t take full advantage, allowing Trapp to block.
74 mins: Now Laurent Blanc makes his first alteration. It's no shock that he brings on Edinson Cavani, but is perhaps surprising that he has chosen to withdraw Lucas Moura, who has arguably been PSG’s best attacking player.
72 mins: Guus Hiddink has made his first change of the night, bringing on Oscar in place of Eden Hazard. Given Oscar’s greater tenacity and defensive awareness than the Belgian, that looks a shrewd substitution, although the Brazilian is lining up on the left, rather than the other side, from where PSG's biggest threat is coming.
71 mins: Chelsea are finally able to get out and mount a counter attack, which Lucas ends with a foul on Baba Rahman that earns him a yellow card. He joins David Luiz, who was shown a yellow moment earlier, in the referee’s book.
70 mins: Chelsea just cannot keep the ball right now and their defense is being repeatedly besieged. Surely they can’t continue to hang on against this wave of PSG attacks.
66 mins: PSG go close to their second goal of the night from a free-kick. This time it’s Di Maria who takes it with his left foot from the right side, and, while it’s struck well, it was at a good height for Courtois to dive across and parry it to safety.
64 mins: Chelsea are really hanging on now. Again from a cross from the left, Ibrahimovic couldn’t get his header on target, but the ball fell to Blaise Matuidi, whose hammering effort was blocked right in front of goal by both Ivanovic and Cahill.
61 mins: Big save from Courtois. Not for the first time, Lucas scampered through the middle and toward the box, but from his powerful low drive Courtois did superbly to get down and block it with his right hand. Chelsea hanging on a little bit right now.
58 mins: Again a threat comes down Chelsea’s right, this time with Pedro caught way upfield. Courtois does well to come out and smother the ball away from Maxwell. Pedro has been getting up and down well, but Maxwell's forward runs down his side are beginning to be a real worry for Chelsea.
56 mins: Danger for Chelsea again. Di Maria supplied a wonderful pass down the inside left channel for the overlapping Maxwell, but Ivanovic did well to get back in and cut out the cross before it could fall to Ibrahimovic.
53 mins: Courtois has been called into action again, this time blocking an Ibrahimovic shot that was straight at him, but had the complication of getting a slight deflection off the boot of Ivanovic. PSG starting to build up a head of steam once again.
51 mins: Out of nowhere and from a long way out, Di Maria has struck a fierce shot that Courtois had to be fully alert to in order to tip it over the crossbar. It's been an end-to-end start to the second period.
49 mins: Chelsea have threatened twice on the break in the early minutes of this second half. Whereas Pedro overhit a through ball for Diego Costa on the first occasion, Willian’s was more precise with the second, but the Spain striker was denied by the out-rushing Trapp. Good signs for Chelsea, though, who threatened seldom on the counter attack in the first 45 minutes.
48 mins: Given that the matchups between these two clubs in the last two seasons of the Champions League have been decided by away goals, PSG will be desperate not to be traveling to London in three weeks’ time with the scoreline as it is. If that is the case, PSG would have to score at Stamford Bridge to have a chance of making a fourth straight quarterfinal.
Second Half Kickoff! PSG get the match back underway.
Here's video of the two first-half goals:
HALFTIME! PSG 1-1 Chelsea
Paris Saint-Germain will be hugely disappointed not to be up at halftime and especially to have given up an away goal. The hosts dominated the first 20 minutes, but while they couldn’t make that pressure count, Ibrahomovic’s deflected free-kick gave them a deserved advantage. Yet that lead was lost just a few minutes later, when the man responsible for both giving away the free-kick that led to PSG’s goal and deflecting it in, Mikel grabbed a rare goal.
GOAL! PSG 1-1 Chelsea (Mikel, 45+1)
Spectacular and almost immediate redemption for Mikel! Given his woeful scoring record for Chelsea, probably the least likely player on the pitch to get a goal fires Chelsea level and gives them a potentially crucial away goal right before halftime. Diego Costa got up impressively to flick on a corner from the right and Mikel controlled well before blast home from six yards.
44 mins: Chelsea have their own free-kick on the edge of the area, but Willian, who has been lethal from set-pieces this season, can only find the PSG wall.
GOAL! PSG 1-0 Chelsea (Ibrahimovic, 39)
And Paris Saint-Germain grab the chance to take the lead in this Round of 16 tie. Again it was Ibrahimovic on free-kick duty, but unlike his earlier wasted effort, he decided to just blast this one low. It was hit with some force, but a crucial touch came off Mikel to leave Courtois only able to watch the ball fly past him and into the net. That’s a miserable couple of minutes for Mikel, having conceded the foul and then deflected in the resulting free-kick.
38 mins: The first yellow card of the game comes out for John Mikel Obi, after the Nigerian cynically clipped the ankles of Lucas Moura as he threatened to burst through into the box. Good chance for PSG from this free-kick…
36 mins: Di Maria will feel he should have done better, too, as a quick counter found him in space on the edge of the box, but as Ivanovic dived in the Argentine dragged his shot well wide.
33 mins: Immediately down the other end, the clearest chance yet for PSG. It falls to the man they would want it to, as well, but Ibrahimovic timed his leap from a right-wing cross all wrong and headed the ball harmlessly into the ground and over the bar. A player of the Swede’s caliber would really be expecting to find the net from there.
32 mins: Chelsea take a free-kick quickly down the left and a deep cross falls for Ivanovic at the back post, but the defender can only drive the ball into the side netting from an uninviting angle.
30 mins: Marquinhos has just shown his limitations at right-back on a couple of occasions. The converted center-back, playing in place of Serge Aurier, twice had the ball in dangerous positions in the final third but cheaply gave away possession.
27 mins: Having survived that early onslaught, Chelsea have really settled into this contest. Again they threaten, with Pedro putting in a low cross that was perfect for Azpilicueta, but the full-back whiffed at the ball allowing PSG to clear.
24 mins: Diego Costa hits the bar! At the end of their first concerted spell of possession in the match, Rahman puts in a fine cross from the left and Costa, who was a fraction offside, meets it with a strong header, but one that lacked the required direction allowing Kevin Trapp to superbly turn it onto the crossbar.
23 mins: Laurent Blanc made it clear in his press conference yesterday that he wanted his team to impose themselves on Chelsea, and, unlike many of their matches against the European elite, they’ve certainly done that in the first quarter of this contest.
18 mins: Lucas’ lightening pace almost got him clean through on goal, but Azpilicueta did superbly to track the run and get a challenge in. Lucas is continuing to cause problems with his positioning, though, moving a lot through the middle.
13 mins: PSG threaten Chelsea’s backline again, with Maxwell’s teasing low cross just missing two attackers in the middle and reaching the safe hands of Courtois.
12 mins: Ibrahimovic registers his first effort of the night, but his curling free-kick in the end flies harmlessly wide of Chelsea’s goal with Courtois unconcerned.
9 mins: Chelsea simply can’t cope with PSG’s intensity right now. From Ibrahimovic’s clever knockdown, Lucas had a sight of goal, leaving Azpilicueta to make a diving block on the edge of the area.
6 mins: Lucas now fires a shot from distance, this time it whistles past Courtois’ post. Chelsea must be concerned with the amount of space PSG’s attacking players are getting early on, though, especially with the ease Cesc Fabregas is being bypassed in the middle.
4 mins: It’s all PSG in the opening minutes. Ibrahimovic has already brought out his tricks, and Verratti has just tested Thibaut Courtois with a fierce drive from 25 yards that moved through the air. Courtois was undoubtedly relieved that his parried save fell to Chelsea feet in the box.
1 min: Lucas gives an early signal of his dribbling ability, as the Brazilian beats several Chelsea challenges to get into the box before the visitors eventually cleared. Lucas is operating from the left, with Di Maria starting from the right and going up against Chelsea’s inexperienced left-back Baba Rahman.
KICKOFF! Chelsea get the game underway.
2:43 p.m. EST: After some brief reunions between David Luiz and his former Chelsea cohorts and Pedro and his former Barcelona teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the two teams are out of the tunnel and ready for kickoff.
2:05 p.m. EST: The two lineups are in, and PSG have put out a very strong lineup. Marco Verratti, who had been an injury doubt, gets the start, while Lucas Moura is preferred to Edinson Cavani in alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel di Maria. It will be a makeshift Chelsea backline trying to stop that impressive forward trio. With John Terry and Kurt Zouma out, Gary Cahill will be partnered in the center of defense by Branisalv Ivanovic. Cesar Azpilicueta will step into Ivanovic’s usual place at right-back, with Baba Rahman slotting in on the left. Nemanja Matic is suspended.
— PSG English (@PSG_English) February 16, 2016
Chelsea FC team: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic (c), Baba Rahman; Fabregas, Mikel; Pedro, Willian, Hazard; Diego Costa. #PSGCHE
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 16, 2016
Preview: The Champions League returns on Tuesday with two sides who have become frequent foes in recent years facing off in Paris for the first leg of their Round of 16 series. Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea will be meeting for the third straight season in the knockout phase of Europe’s premier competition. And if this year’s matches are anything like their previous contests, then plenty of drama lies in store.
Two seasons ago, Chelsea grabbed a late goal to snatch a first Champions League semifinal spot in nearly 20 years away from PSG. A year later, this time in the Round of 16, the French champions got their revenge in the second leg at Stamford Bridge when Thiago Silva scored an extra-time header to send 10-man PSG through on away goals.
With Chelsea having topped their group this time around, and PSG only able to finish second behind Real Madrid, the London club will again have the perceived advantage of going home for the second leg. Yet on this season’s form, it is PSG that would appear to have a distinct upper hand.
Laurent Blanc’s side have only lost once all season, and that was to Real Madrid. In France they have gone undefeated, and sit a massive 24 points clear as they chase a fourth successive Ligue Un title. In contrast, any hope Chelsea had of retaining their Premier League title has long since evaporated. Their form has, though, improved sharply since the arrival of Guus Hiddink as interim manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho in December.
Chelsea remain undefeated since the Dutch coach and European Cup winner with PSV Eindhoven in 1988 took charge. And he has form, too, for attempting to rescue a Chelsea season through the Champions League. When taking over for a similar interim spell in 2009, Hiddink led Chelsea to the Champions League semifinals, when only some controversial refereeing decisions and a late goal from Andres Iniesta prevented them from ousting Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
On Tuesday at the Parc des Princes, Hiddink will be unable to call upon one of the few men remaining from that semifinal loss, John Terry. The Chelsea captain is ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up in a 5-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday. PSG, meanwhile, will not be calling upon right-back Serge Aurier, after the Ivory Coast international was suspended for making insulting comments toward his manager and some teammates in a Periscope video.
The match kicks off at 2:45 p.m. ET.