Ba bags vital goal as Chelsea go through
Hazard limps off early but replacement Schurrle pounces to ignite fightback
Demba Ba scores the late goal at Stamford Bridge that clinched victory for Chelsea over Paris Saint-Germain in their Uefa Champions League quarter-final. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
CHELSEA 2 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 0
(3-3, Chelsea go through on away goals)
This is not the first time Chelsea have reminded us of their durability, but there is still something remarkable about the way this team just never give up. They give everything and it resulted here in that glorious moment when Jose Mourinho could be seen haring down the touchline on one of his epic victory runs.
Mourinho has never lost a quarter-final in this competition and that record was perilously under threat before Demba Ba stuck out a foot and scrambled in the decisive goal with three minutes left.
Ba was an unlikely hero, but nobody can dispute that Chelsea deserved it. They had taken a 32nd-minute lead through Andre Schurrle and they also hit the crossbar twice in a chaotic second half.
PSG were simply worn down and went out on away goals. Laurent Blanc’s team have lost by two goals only once in two years and arrived after a club record 11 successive wins and Chelsea, already with the odds stacked high against them, suffered a grievous setback early on when Eden Hazard signalled that he was pulling out.
PSG had begun the game with a measured form of authority, to the point that it came almost as a jolt when Schurrle, Hazard’s replacement, provided the moment that changed the complexion of the game.
The goal originated from the kind of long throw-in and flick-on routine not often seen at this level. Branislav Ivanovic was the man hurling the ball into the penalty area. David Luiz applied the first touch in front of Thiago Silva and Schurrle was ghosting in from behind to side-foot a shot inside a post.
Salvatore Sirigu, the PSG goalkeeper, had produced a brilliant save minutes earlier after Frank Lampard’s free-kick.
Shortly after the goal there was more evidence of PSG’s apparent vulnerabilities when defending set-pieces and a chance for Gary Cahill he skewed wide.
Chelsea’s opponents suddenly started to look rattled. Edinson Cavani tried to stop David Luiz taking a quick free-kick and was booked for his troubles, meaning he went through the remainder of the night knowing he would be suspended from the first leg of the semi-final.
Ezequiel Lavezzi was no longer looking so menacing. The volume inside the stadium had turned up and Chelsea were driving forwards with purpose.
For the opening half an hour they had huffed and puffed through midfield without really getting anywhere. Lavezzi, outstanding last week, looked lively again and there was no real indication in those moments that Chelsea’s opponents missed the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Their response to the goal, however, encouraged Chelsea, and there were times when the French champions missed their most celebrated player, if only because of his ability to hold up the ball in attack.
Cavani, in particular, looked several notches short of the player who used to terrorise defences for Napoli. His team were wilting.
Seven minutes into the second half, Schurrle ran on to Willian’s cutback and thudded a curling shot against the crossbar. Moura, trying to clear the danger, gave away a free-kick and this time it was Oscar, from 25 yards, who was left cursing his misfortune.
It was a handsome shot, curling and dipping towards the top corner, but the woodwork spared PSG again.
Briefly the visitors rallied, but there were only sporadic moments when they truly threatened Petr Cech’s goal. Chelsea’s goalkeeper turned away a free-kick from Lavezzi but Mourinho’s players were not allowing them space.
Chelsea did not play with grace but their intensity was impressive. They ran for everything and if they did lose the ball, they hunted it down.
They also had to make do with the fact Samuel Eto’o was not fully fit after the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first leg. Fernando Torres was left out again and when Mourinho did put on a second striker it was Demba Ba.
Torres followed later but it was Ba who supplied the moment that will pin this game down among Chelsea’s list of great comebacks. Cesar Azpilicueta’s shot took two deflections through a congested penalty area and Ba poked out a leg to take Chelsea into the last four. – Guardian Service
CHELSEA : Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Lampard (Ba 66), Willian, Oscar (Torres 81), Hazard (Schurrle 18), Eto’o. Subs not used : Schwarzer, Cole, Mikel, Kalas. Booked : Willian, Lampard, Ivanovic, Luiz.
PARIS ST GERMAIN : Sirigu, Jallet, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell, Verratti (Cabaye 54), Thiago Motta, Matuidi, Lucas Moura (Marquinhos 84), Cavani, Lavezzi (Pastore 72). Subs not used: Douchez, Menez, Digne, Van Der Wiel. Booked : Verratti, Cavani, Lucas Moura, Maxwell.
Referee : Pedro Proenca (Portugal).
Attendance : 38, 500