By Editor Wayne Veysey
Chelsea have foothold in tie
If you had offered most Chelsea fans a 2-1 defeat at PSG’s stronghold ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge, they would probably have taken it. Guus Hiddink’s side have the crucial away goal and the proof that the runaway French league leaders are beatable. Given the unavailability of their first-choice centre-back pairing and midfield enforcer, this was an impressive display from the visitors, perhaps their best of what has been such a disappointing season. PSG are a mighty fine side but Chelsea’s contain and counter-attack tactics worked well.
Cavani likes playing Chelsea
For all of Chelsea’s riches, they could not call upon a substitute of the calibre of Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan lost his place in the team before Christmas after falling out with Laurent Blanc over his wide role but he has lost none of his potency in the final third. Five minutes after replacing Lucas Moura, he latched on to Angel di Maria’s chipped pass and slammed between the legs of Thibaut Courtois from what seemed an impossibly tight angle. Cavani has been involved in five goals in seven Champions League games against Chelsea (three goals, two assists).
Hazard remains below-par
There is no genuine light at the end of a tunnel of misery for the Belgian. With Oscar struggling with a calf injury and Nemanja Matic unavailable due to suspension, Eden Hazard started the match but was hauled off at the 70th minute as he once again failed to live up to his billing. Even Pedro stayed on the pitch as Hazard was withdrawn.
Courtois is mostly brilliant
It is the nature of the job that goalkeeper’s mistakes get highlighted while their routine brilliance gets ignored. That was the case tonight for Courtois, who got his positioning awry for Cavani’s superbly-taken winner either side of a string of saves that helped keep dominant PSG at bay. The Belgian is such a commanding goalkeeper that it comes as a surprise when he makes an error. Even the very best shot-stoppers are fallible and he certainly belongs in that category.
Mikel has new lease of life
Unloved and unwanted under Jose Mourinho, the long-serving midfielder has been given a new lease of life by Guus Hiddink. Restored as a first-team regular, he has responded with some consistent displays. In the absence of Matic, Mikel was paired with Cesc Fabregas in central midfield in Paris. To the general amazement of most observers, he popped in the penalty to emphatically slam in the equaliser for only his sixth Chelsea goal in nearly a dace at the club. This was not a blemish-free performance from Mikel. Firstly, he conceded the free-kick for Ibrahomvic’s opener and was then guilty of the cardinal sin of turning his back as the ball deflected off his body and past the stranded Courtois.