Thiago Silva’s extra-time header sensationally took 10-man Paris Saint-Germain into the Champions League quarterfinals and sent Chelsea crashing out, after a breathless 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge gave the French champions victory on away goals. A year on from Chelsea causing PSG dramatic late heartache in the last eight of the same competition, this time it was Laurent Blanc’s men who delivered the stunning blow.
After Gary Cahill’s late volley was canceled out by an even later header from former Chelsea defender David Luiz in normal time, Silva looked to have unraveled all of his side’s admirable work since losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a controversial first-half red card. The Brazilian captain’s foolish handball left Eden Hazard to score from the spot early in extra time and surely end PSG’s challenge. Instead, they fought on and Chelsea, poor throughout on a horror evening on their own turf, succumbed when Silva spectacularly redeemed himself by rising above his counterpart John Terry to loop a header over Thibaut Courtois.
Demba Ba’s late winner and a dramatic fight back against the same opponents last season had Jose Mourinho running for joy, but this time the Chelsea boss was shaking his head in frustration throughout. Already with the advantage of an away goal and a 1-1 in draw in Paris, on numerous occasions Chelsea had the chance to take the match by the scruff of the neck. Instead the lack of intensity that was evident in the first leg and has occasionally crept into Mourinho’s settled side of late gave an inspired PSG the chance to stay live and ultimately prevail.
The Chelsea boss already has the Capital One Cup in his possession and looks likely to follow it up with the Premier League title, but it was surely a first Champions League with Chelsea and making history by becoming the first manager to lift the European Cup with three different clubs that he craved most. As his dream was shattered for another season, his counterpart , under pressure following a struggling season in Ligue 1, appears to have, temporarily at least, stepped back from the precipice.
After PSG started brightly, Chelsea were increasingly content to hold station and wait to strike on the break. With the visitors failing to create meaningful chances and Hazard having plenty of early joy going forward, it looked at the time a shrewd strategy. And 31 minutes in, the tide was turned further in Chelsea’s favor. Ibrahimovic and Oscar both went in strongly for a 50-50 ball, but it was the Brazilian who came off worse and referee Bjorn Kuipers, with Chelsea players rushing to surround him, had no hesitation in pulling out a red card. PSG’s players were furious, and understandably so, with no evident recklessness in the Swede’s challenge.
The incident proved the catalyst for an increasingly heated encounter. Luiz, involved in a running battle with Diego Costa, should have been following Ibrahimovic to an early shower after elbowing his compatriot, while Costa was unlucky not to win a penalty after being clipped by Edinson Cavani.
But the red card did not lead to Chelsea asserting their authority on the contest. Passivity at the start of the second half soon turned to panic, with PSG playing like the team with a man extra. Just as in the first leg, though, and, indeed, in last year’s tie, Cavani failed to show a clinical touch in front of goal. Chelsea’s defense was all over the place as the Uruguayan forward was played through, but after rounding Courtois he got his feet tangled up and shot against the post with the goal at his mercy.
Meanwhile, the feistiness continued as Costa lunged in on Silva with a challenge at least as bad as the one that saw Ibrahimovic sent on his way. Booked for that indiscretion, the over-heated Costa was then even more fortunate to escape a red when pushing over Marquinhos behind the referee’s back.
The late drama wasn’t restricted to the game’s less savory elements. After PSG failed to clear a corner, Terry kept the ball alive and from Costa’s mishit shot Cahill lashed home with a much sweeter strike to put Chelsea in front and surely heading into the last eight. Instead PSG finally earned a reward for their considerable efforts.
Luiz, the flamboyant Brazilian shipped off for a cool £50 million last summer, was the man to capitalize on Chelsea’s lack of control and powerfully head home form a near-post corner to force an extra 30 minutes that the hosts were all too aware they should have avoided. An inexplicable blunder by PSG’s captain looked to have finally given Chelsea the gift they needed to prevail. But just seconds after Courtois had performed heroics by keeping out a Silva header from a set-piece, Chelsea again failed to handle the big defender, who, with six minutes left on the clock, delivered a blow for which Chelsea had no response.