Chelsea defend in vain as PSG gain 2-1 upper hand in crunch tie

Match Summary

Chelsea’s defensive resoluteness was undone by two sloppy goals as the Blues lose 2-1 against nemesis Paris Saint-Germain in France.

The two sides, who have met twice in recent years with both ties ending 3-3 on aggregate and having to be settled on away goals, played out a thoroughly entertaining and open game of football, but it was a case of the hosts being more efficient.

Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock from a free-kick when the Chelsea wall parted, but Mikel atoned in first-half injury time. Chelsea, and in particular Costa, was guilty of missing big one-on-one opportunities but Cavani gave PSG back their deserved lead as Courtois was sloppy in closing down.

It leaves the tie slightly in favour of the Parisian side going into the return leg in three week’s time, but Hiddink can be pleased with his men’s performance, particularly given a make-shift defence with no Zouma or Terry.

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It was exactly the start Chelsea fans feared. Lucas ran through the heart of the make-shift defence after just 37 seconds but Cahill stuck a leg out. Veratti then had a swerving shot moments later, whilst Moura’s drive whistled past Courtois’ post after being teed up by Ibrahimovic.

It was ominous opening signs for Chelsea, with PSG players omnipresent and Chelsea defending deep from the first minute, with Lucas allowed another run in acres of space in the 17th minute. Azpilicueta tracked well, but Chelsea had already had too many warnings.

But after the opening 20 minutes, Chelsea started to hold their own. Out of the blue, Chelsea’s first meaningful chance should have been taken. Rahman’s cross was a peach and planted exactly on Costa’s forehead, but he headed straight at Trapp. It was a point-blank chance and Chelsea certainly did not deserve to take the lead, but it was an opportunity they needed to take.

Then, Pedro found space for a cross and Azpilicueta was the wrong man in the right place, totally mis-kicking Pedro’s cross.

But it was not all Chelsea. Ibrahimovic had his own chance akin to Costa’s moments earlier, but headed straight down with Cahill doing just enough to put the tall Swede off.

The PSG talisman was not to be denied though. On the 39th minute, Mikel conceded a free-kick and was the guilty party in a flaky wall to take Ibrahimovic’s free-kick past Courtois. It was deserved and sent the home crowd into delirium.

But the Nigerian would soon make amends. PSG have only let in one goal in this season’s Champions League, but Chelsea worked up a corner after excellent work by Rahman and Fabregas, and Willian’s floating ball in was flicked on by Costa into the midriff of Mikel. All the Chelsea stalwart had to do was put his foot through it and he sure did, grabbing his sixth Chelsea goal in 358 club appearances. It was the last kick of the half.

How would the second half pan out? With the away goal obtained, Chelsea’s strategy was one of counter-attacks, and it sure gave PSG plenty of the ball.

Aside from a Costa chance straight after the restart where Trapp denied him one-on-one, it was all PSG in a very open affair.

Lucas was through but Courtois got down well, whilst Cahill and Ivanovic had to be at the top of their game to arrest the onslaught from Messrs Ibrahimovic, Moura and Veratti.

Courtois had to be alert from a Di Maria free-kick, but Chelsea looked to seize the initiative by bringing on Oscar for the ineffective Hazard, and the Brazilian was an inch away from getting a toe onto a fantastic long-range Fabregas free-kick.

But PSG had a trick up their sleeve with Cavani for Moura too, and the Uruguayan scored. Cahill played the man living in the shadows of Ibrahimovic on-side and, with such a tight angle, the only way he could have scored was through Courtois’ legs. The Belgian invited it and PSG regained the upper hand yet again.

Marquinhos should have made it 3-1 as he was free to run in on Courtois but his tame shot was blocked by Cahill, as the rattles were coming off for Chelsea, as Silva lashed wide with another opportunity.

Costa was wasteful and dispossessed of the ball when he should have just unleashed it, with PSG breaking straight away as Ibrahimovic had a glorious chance to grab a third in injury time, whilst Pedro hit the side netting as Chelsea looked in vain for one final chance.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

baba-rahman.thumbnailBABA RAHMAN: His biggest test to date being thrust into a make-shift Chelsea defence and thought he handled the pressure in Paris quite well relatively. The goals were not directly his fault and he was resolute with his defensive work, but displays an attacking threat down the left which Azpilicueta cannot offer which is a left-footed cross whipped in, and had Costa taken that opportunity it could have played out into a very different game. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Hiddink was pragmatic but honest: “Over two legs, it is important you have the away goal. If we can do it at Stamford Bridge then a defeat doesn’t count so much. The result is negative but on the other hand an away goal is important. It hurt a bit because the team was playing decently. We were not lethal enough at times but otherwise we can be relatively happy. But we are still in the race.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Chelsea 3-1 Sporting Lisbon: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea returned to winning ways as they put aside Sporting Lisbon with an assured 3-1 victory.

The Blues, who suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Newcastle at the weekend, had already qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, but if Sporting thought they would have it easier, they would be very wrong.

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No doubt fuelled by the fact Mourinho wanted a return to victories after the weekend loss, the home starting XI featured the likes of Costa, Matic and Cahill, plus you can hardly regard fringe players Cech, Schurrle and Salah as weak players.

A fast start is what Mourinho craves so that his side can dictate the game and they is exactly what they did. Felipe Luis, who was the left-back tonight for Chelsea, found himself in the box and, when bundled over, Moen was on hand to award the sport-kick. No Hazard but no problem: Fabregas tucked home.

Schurrle, with plenty of critics to prove, not least his own boss, fired home a superb second eight minutes later. The ball was caught up between his and Costa’s feet but the German squeezed a shot past Patricio into the goal, an excellent precise shot.

What should have been an easy second half had its wobbles, especially when Silva pulled a goal back to stop Chelsea in full flow. Mikel of all people tapped home from no more than one metre to give Chelsea their third.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

andre-schurrle.thumbnailANDRE SCHURRLE: Hasn’t had much to shout about this season and no doubt would have hoped for more after the World Cup joys. Losing his first-team place to Willian and being hit with illness will not have helped him physically but he seized the opportunity gratefully. A superb goal and was bright and energetic throughout. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho was diplomatic: “We were very focused and serious. I’m happy with that. I feel sorry for Sporting, I would have liked them to qualify. The win was important. It was a good reaction to losing at Newcastle.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had three years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fulham 0-3 Chelsea

A John Terry double helped Chelsea secure SW6 bragging rights as Chelsea strolled to victory on Wednesday night.

The West London derby has produced three 0-0 draws in the last five occasions, but there was to be no shortage of action as Terry’s centre-back pairing David Luiz opened the scoring from long-range. The defenders were kept largely free with Fulham attacks scarce, and two more from set-plays means the Blues now reclaim back third place.

After the FA Cup exit on Sunday, Frank Lampard was restored, to play his 600th Chelsea game: he joins an elite club alongside Peter Bonetti and Ron Harris. Meanwhile, fan favourite David Luiz was making his centenary appearance, with Torres leading the line.

Bryan Ruiz had the first chance of the match within minutes as Chelsea were caught napping, but the Fulham Number 11 could only hit his volley wide. Karagounis then hit the bar in an end-to-end match.

It needed that wake-up call to spring Chelsea into action. Frank Lampard’s quest for overtaking the Chelsea goal-scoring record could have been one closer, but Schwarzer was in no mood to lend a helping hand.

It needed something special from Mata and Hazard, but when Luiz comes forward, he can produce a shot of the highest quality, as demonstrated with a fabulous 35-yard drive. It was a shot with precision and power, and there was nothing Schwarzer could do but admire.

Urby Emanuelson looked likely in getting Fulham’s equaliser, but Cech was alert when called upon.

The Fulham back-line was less so when John Terry rose highest for the game’s second. It was Juan Mata’s 26th assist of the season.

To their credit, Fulham huffed and puffed, but the two-goal advantage was always pointing the match towards the Blues. Mata nearly made it three after a Torres cross, but it did not come.

Fulham nearly pegged one back through Senderos towering header, but Petric heroically diverted the ball over the net, with the home crowd angry as much as bemused.

The third for Chelsea came from a second off Terry. Mata’s corner was headed on by Torres, and Terry was a yard from the line to head the ball home.

Oscar, Mikel and Ba came on for Hazard, Ramires and Mata, but 3-0 was job done and Sunday’s match against Liverpool is one to relish for Torres and Benitez.

Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City

Chelsea’s love affair with the FA Cup and Wembley Stadium came to an abrupt halt as Manchester City march on to the Final.

Two goals by City put them in a commanding position, but Chelsea’s FA Cup top scorer Demba Ba pulled one back as the West Londoners surged. Chris Foy denied Chelsea two penalties and failed to send Sergio Aguero off as time wore on and City booked another Wembley date for next month.

It was the first time Chelsea have been defeated in a FA Cup match in 30 attempts, excluding penalty shootouts. That long run has lived strong through six Chelsea managers, from Scolari to Di Matteo, but Benitez could not help Chelsea through a strong Manchester City side.

The Citizens are, in fact, yet to concede thus far in the FA Cup 2013 campaign, and it was no surprise therefore that Mancini kept his faith in Pantilimon.

It was Cech who was the busiest keeper, though, in the opening stages. The Blues have played 15 more matches than their rivals this term, and the lethargic side got the better of them as City dictated the early passages thanks to the Argentinian double of Aguero and Tevez. Ivanovic and Bertrand were there to make the necessary blocks.

As the game developed, it was to unravel into an absolute spectacle. A long-range volley hit into the ground looped goalwards and needed clearing off the line by Kompany, but City were resolute.

Chelsea were less so, and Nasri’s opening goal was indicative of such. Weaving inside the box, the Frenchman looked to make one extra pass to Aguero, but his luck was in as Azpilicueta’s block presented the chance back to the former Arsenal man, and he rifled home for 1-0.

Chelsea have won each of their last eight FA Cup matches played at Wembley Stadium, but Mr Wembley, Didier Drogba, is no more. The side that had lifted the trophy four times in the last six years looked dramatically different, especially with Terry and Lampard benched.

It ought to have been two from a Chelsea free-kick. Manchester City counter-attacked and were four-on-two, but Vincent Kompany perhaps was the lesser of the preferred men given Aguero’s presence, and Chelsea were just the one behind, thankfully, going into the break.

That changed straight after the restart. City had taken their time in getting out from their half-time team-talk, but whatever took them so long brought the next goal. Barry’s cross found Aguero, who drifted into space between Ivanovic and Azpilicueta, to knock home number two.

It was case of 2011 winners City versus 2012 winners Chelsea, and the current holders needed to show more fight.

That was shown as soon as Torres entered the fray. His added presence gave the City back-line one more to think about, and Ba was free to acrobatically pull one back. It was a staggering goal, of similar magnitude to his United one in the previous round, and similarly precious.

After that, it was all Chelsea. Mata was brought down by Pantilimon, but Foy reckoned the ball was gotten first. Luiz dipped in a free-kick that went narrowly wide, whilst Torres was proving to be a handful, heading goalwards and also getting in for the equaliser, but Foy failed to spot Kompany nearly rip his shirt off.

Aguero ought to have been sent off for a two-footed challenge on Luiz’s behind, but Foy once again failed to stamp down his authority.

Lescott and Garcia had come on for Nasri and Tevez as City ran down the clock and now will face Wigan in the Final.

 

Rubin Kazan 3-2 Chelsea

Chelsea booked their place in the Europa League semi-finals — although not without difficulty — as Rubin Kazan’s narrow victory was not enough to overturn their first-leg deficit.

Chelsea, meanwhile, were left to thank their 3-1 home victory, as disastrous defending in this leg thankfully did not put pay to any European hopes for the Blues this season.

If it was any game to sum up Chelsea’s unpredictable season, it would be this. A Fernando Torres goal inside the first five minutes meant Rubin Kazan needed four to win outright. Marcano’s equaliser looked to be a mere consolation four minutes into the second half, especially once Victor Moses scored Chelsea’s second away goal just shy of the hour mark. But two in 12 minutes for Kazan shifted the momentum yet again, but the European champions just held out. At least Kazan had managed to restore some pride with this victory.

It has started in such ghastly fashion for them. A quiet Luzhniki Stadium, neither the home ground of either club, become even quieter once Torres seemingly put an end to any comeback hopes.

An outstanding, first-time sweeping pass by Lampard fell perfectly into Fernando Torres’ stride, and with the help of the ball’s bounce, together with hapless Ryzhikov rushing off his line, the Spaniard lobbed the Kazan goalkeeper.

It was a confident strike from the man in the mask, and certainly a shot he would not have dared tried a few months back, but Lampard’s assist was equally divine.

It was all Chelsea despite a weakened side, with Rafa Benitez having one eye on the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Sunday. Still, the players afforded a starting eleven spot looked set on proving to the interim manager their worth, with Moses testing their keeper.

Cech was by no mean a passer-by in the first half, having to be alert in keeping out Karadeniz, but at the start of the second, he could not stop Marcano from heading the equaliser.

It was still firmly in Chelsea’s hands, even more so five minutes later. Lampard found Moses, who played a one-two off Ramires, before side-footing high into the Kazan goal. Game over, surely.

Lampard was bossing the midfield alongside the youngster Ake, and Mikel came on to add defensive solidity, replacing Ramires, but three minutes after his introduction, Rubin Kazan equalised for the second time in the night. Karadeniz, the smallest player on the pitch, rose highest as Cech was once again beaten from a header.

Rubin suddenly surged where Chelsea took the foot off the gas. Marcano nearly scored his second, only to be denied by the post, but Natcho did score the game’s next goal from the penalty spot. Azpilicueta was the man in the dock, having bundled over Ryazantsev, albeit softly.

Former Chelsea target Rondon had a glorious opportunity to show what he is capable of, but headed straight at Cech, who was not to be beaten from above for the third time this evening.

More substitutions broke up the play, with Oscar and Ivanovic coming on for Benayoun and Lampard, and as time went on, so Kazan lost hope. Chelsea survive and a semi-final berth is theirs.

Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland

Chelsea wiped the smile off Paolo Di Canio as the hosts narrowly defeated his Sunderland in a lacklustre affair.

Two own goals by defenders a minute either side of the half-time interval spurred the game to life. Ivanovic made it third time lucky for defenders as he managed to secure a priceless deflection, and three points, for the Blues.

The win for Chelsea means they now are 3rd in the league on goal difference, whilst defeat for Sunderland mean they are truly in the relegation dogfight.

It was a match all built up on the managers. Rafa Benitez must have been relieved the spotlight was not on him, whilst Paolo Di Canio has not had an easy ride after Martin O’Neil’s tenure with Sunderland ended last week, with political agendas prevailing against football.

But once the whistle blew to start the match, it was the football that did the talking.

Fresh from his European ineligibility, Ba looked eager and had Chelsea’s first real opportunity, but O’Shea was in the right place.

The first game of a new manager normally brings renewed energy and life into a failing side, and Adam Johnson sought to provide this, nearly opening the scoring, only for David Luiz to head clear.

Ramires’ header was the first shot on target of note, but Mignolet was hardly tested.

Craig Gardner is never one to shy away from a manly challenge, and his one on Demba Ba in the 26th minute earned him a caution, and though the Senegalese striker played on, he was pulled from the action at half-time.

Wickham has been hotly touted as one for the future, and though not leading the line with distinction, at least had a part to play for the Sunderland break-through.

His shot off David Luiz resulted in a corner, and in and amongst the mêlée stood Cesar Azpilicueta, who got his foot positioning hopelessly wrong and spectacularly volleyed into his own net.

They say the worst time to concede — and duly the best time to score — is right before half-time, but it is hardly morale-boosting to concede straight after.

That is what Sunderland did exactly. Torres’ arrival for the injured Ba was refreshing, with the Spaniard’s surging run finding Oscar. The Spaniard expressed his commitment to repay Chelsea’s faith in him and see out his contract until 2016 was met with indifference, but more of the same and the fans will forgive him for his shortcomings.

The Brazilian Oscar had a great one-on-one opportunity, but a heavy first touch looked to put pay to any chance, but Mignolet’s block deflected off Kilgallon and trickled in.

Ten minutes later and Chelsea went ahead for the first time in the match. A Chelsea corner was the result of positive forward play, but no-one appeared keen to attack the ball in the empty box. Perhaps complacent in thinking there was no danger, Sunderland sloppily headed away, only as far as David Luiz, whose volley from the edge of the box took a massive whack off Ivanovic and into the other corner of the goal.

Lampard was given two minutes to try to seek his 201st goal, but it was enough for Chelsea as a trip to Russia awaits midweek.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Rafael Benitez was no fool as Chelsea’s love affair for the FA Cup continued with a morale-boosting victory against rivals Manchester United.

Demba Ba’s exquisite volley at the start of the second half proved to be the winner, as Chelsea held out to record their first clean sheet versus United since 2009.

The Blues have not lost an FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge since March 2003, winning 20 and drawing four in that time.

And with star players such as Mata and Hazard reinstated into the starting line-up after a rest 48 hours ago, it was up to Chelsea to show their worth after clawing back a 2-0 deficit in the original tie.

As for Manchester United, Robin van Persie was rested on the bench whilst Rooney was still nursing an injury, so nemesis Hernandez was afforded a start alongside Danny Welbeck. The Mexican loves a match against Chelsea, having scored in six of the last seven meetings between these two sides.

Two early goals in the original tie over three weeks ago proved Chelsea’s undoing, and it was the Blues who had to wary of any fast start this time round.

But with both sides having played on Saturday, the tired legs showed as nothing much was made in the opening stages.

The first real point of incidence was when Ashley Cole pulled up with a hamstring injury when going head-to-head with Danny Welbeck for pace.

The left-back immediately signalled his game was up after 20 minutes and Ryan Bertrand, as his natural replacement, stepped up.

Demba Ba, meanwhile, had to show why Benitez started him, and his first chance came with a low side-foot drive which David de Gea stopped with his foot.

Neither John Terry or Frank Lampard started for Chelsea, but neither’s experience looked to be needed, as United rarely took the game to the hosts, opting to sit deep and counter as a typical away side would.

Luiz and Hazard, however, had other ideas, but both saw their respective shots fly sky-high.

United resorted to long range efforts, but one from Javier Hernandez nearly caught Petr Cech out, with the ball taking a double swerve before the Czech stopper managed to unconvincingly get a trailing leg on it.

Chelsea have scored in 33 successive FA Cup matches at Stamford Bridge, and it was to become 34 just three minutes into the second half.

Chelsea had been slow all game in their build-up play, but when Juan Mata lifted majestically up to Demba Ba, the Senegalese striker got on the right side of Ferdinand and the offside trap to spectacularly stab a leg at the ball, and his mid-air volley nestled into De Gea’s goal.

Hernandez had a point-blank effort denied in world-class fashion by Petr Cech on the hour-mark as the visitors looked to equalise. Danny Welbeck’s right-wing cross was met by a leaping Hernandez three yards out, but Cech’s waving left hand blocked the Mexican’s goalbound effort. The two shared a laugh in the ensuing corner but it was a staggering save.

Less amused was Sir Alex Ferguson, who, after having the league near enough wrapped up, really ought to have concentrated more on this competition and win the Double.

Giggs and Van Persie joined the action soon after as Ferguson looked to restore parity, but it was Chelsea and Hazard who really ought to have got the game’s next goal, but when through on goal, the Belgian’s composure let him down and he dragged it wide.

The substitutes failed to make any meaningful impact for the Red Devils bar one nice piece of link up play. Much has been made of Gigg’s longevity, but the Welshman has only played 30 or more league games in 11 times in his season, whilst Lampard has managed it 13 times, suggesting Ferguson’s wise rotation of the aging veteran.

As for Van Persie, the £24 million purchase from Arsenal had talked up his side’s Double chances after several years without silverware at Arsenal, but the Dutchman was too wasteful, especially when free in the box and his volley went wayward. The 29-year-old has not failed to score in any of his last nine appearances for Manchester United.

Mata had chances galore for Chelsea, be it a toe-poke or left foot pile-drivers, but De Gea continued to give his side a lifeline with every save.

Chelsea’s substitutions were more to waste time than anything as Torres replaced Ba after Moses switched for Oscar. But Chelsea had done enough to record their 25th win at home to United in all competitions, and a semi-final date is set against Manchester City. Chelsea may well need another Drog-BA inspiration at Wembley on April 14th.