PSG leave Chelsea high and dry

PSG go through on away goals despite playing 90 minutes with only 10 men after Ibrahimovic red card

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (scores his team’s first goal at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (scores his team’s first goal at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Chelsea 3 PSG 3
(Agg 3-3, PSG go through on away goals rule)

It was a long, draining night and for a long time before that dramatic finale, when the Paris St Germain players were engulfed in the euphoria and Diego Costa looked like he wanted to fight anyone who got in his way, it had threatened to be a personal ordeal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Instead, it was a show of competitive courage that eliminated Chelsea from the competition despite José Mourinho’s team playing all but the first 31 minutes with an extra player.

Twice they took the lead and on both occasions the 10 men from Paris rallied to hit back. Thiago Silva’s decisive header came in the 114th minute. David Luiz, superb against his old club, had taken the game into an additional half-hour with another headed goal four minutes from the end of normal time and the fact both came direct from corners seemed to sum up the unusual nature of Chelsea’s performance.

Eden Hazard’s penalty, six minutes into the first period of extra time, from a debatable handball decision against Silva had looked like putting them into the quarter-finals for the seventh time in nine years. Then again, it had been tempting to think that after Gary Cahill opened the scoring in the 81st minute. Their opponents simply refused to give up, showing great qualities of fitness as well as composure on the back of Ibrahimovic’s first-half red card. Other teams might have wilted. This, in stark contrast, felt like the night Laurent Blanc’s side announced themselves at the highest level.

His challenge on Oscar was clumsy and mistimed – and a player of his size leaping in at full speed is asking for trouble – but he did also turn his leg away at the last moment when he realised he was too late to connect with the ball. His studs were not showing and the incensed reactions of Oscar’s team-mates might have influenced the Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers.

John Terry and César Azpilicueta led the outrage while Cesc Fàbregas went from demanding a red card to consoling Ibrahimovic within a matter of seconds. Nine Chelsea players were in close proximity to the referee within seconds and there were some fractious moments as the PSG players, in turn, remonstrated with their opponents for taking the protests too far.

Thiago Motta was booked and Blaise Matuidi had to be restrained from prolonging the argument with Azpilicueta. Ibrahimovic, however, barely protested, as if he perhaps realised that he should not have given the referee the option. Unfortunately for him, there is no such thing as an orange card, or even a blood-orange one. Yet the replays did also show Oscar’s right boot followed through, high with studs showing, into his opponent’s shin.

Until that point, it had been a strangely subdued game, with both teams using the opening half an hour to size one another up. Hazard had looked determined to lift the quality but it needed the sending-off to spark the game into life and, though Ibrahimovic did have grievances, Chelsea had reasonable complaints of their own just before half-time when Diego Costa eluded a couple of chances to advance into the penalty area and Edinson Cavani clipped the striker’s ankle to bring him down. A penalty at that stage, facing a team who were now deprived of their principal point of attack, could have made the night far more straightforward for Chelsea.

Oscar was booked late in the first half and when he tangled with another player shortly afterwards Mourinho could be seen gesturing to the Brazilian to make sure he did not do anything to even up the numbers again. Chelsea’s manager was not willing to take the risk in the second half, replacing Oscar with Willian and it probably made good sense given the lingering bad feeling. Costa’s encounters with David Luiz were particularly spiky, involving elbows, finger-pointing and several bouts of eyeballing.

The quality of football was often erratic, however, and Chelsea lacked penetration in attack, with Hazard no longer exerting his early influence. Laurent Blanc, the PSG coach, had switched Cavani to a more central role and in the 57th minute Motta’s through ball split the entire home defence to send the Uruguayan running free on goal. Cavani succeeded with the first part, spinning away from the oncoming goalkeeper Courtois, but in doing so he made the shooting angle harder for himself. He took it with his left foot but the ball flicked off the inside of the near post and flashed across the six-yard area in front of an empty goal.

Chelsea had been spared and in the 81st minute Fàbregas put over a corner from the right. Costa had the first chance to shoot but miscued and the ball fell kindly for Cahill to fire his shot past Salvatore Siriu. Chelsea must have thought they could finally relax but the header from Luiz was superb for the equaliser.

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