Sunday 8 December 2019

Pastore's late strike puts PSG in command

Paris Saint Germain 3 Chelsea 1

Matt Law

Missed chances have become a theme of Chelsea's season and are the reason why Jose Mourinho went into battle against Paris Saint-Germain without any strikers.

So perhaps it was inevitable that a second chance offered to David Luiz was squandered and means that Chelsea will have to come from behind to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Luiz was substituted at half-time in the defeat at Crystal Palace, but was given a reprieve for the first leg of the quarter-final tie against Paris St-Germain's with Nemanja Matic ineligible.

It may have been John Terry who headed straight to the feet of Ezequiel Lavezzi to score PSG's first goal, but it was Luiz who had started the home side's attack by losing possession.

Luiz then made and scored the own-goal that restored PSG's lead, before substitute Javier Pastore netted in stoppage time to leave Chelsea with a mountain to climb.

Eden Hazard's penalty means Chelsea return to England with an away goal and some degree of hope, but Mourinho will need his players to take their chances.

Samuel Eto'o failed to recover from a hamstring injury in time to travel to Paris, but Mourinho preferred to play without a striker rather than put his trust in Fernando Torres, who had been terrible in Chelsea's defeat at Crystal Palace and will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Mourinho was clearly unconcerned by the fact Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Juventus last time they went away in the Champions League without an out-and-out striker, in 2012. Roberto Di Matteo was sacked in the aftermath of that defeat, but Mourinho had already employed the same tactic in the Premier League against Manchester United at Old Trafford and secured a goalless draw.

PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is beaten to the ball by Chelsea captain John Terry
PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is beaten to the ball by Chelsea captain John Terry
Chelsea's David Luiz battles for the ball against PSG's Marco Verratti
PSG's Edinson Cavani challenges Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta to gain possession
Eden Hazard celebrates with his Chelsea team-mates after scoring his side's goal
Javier Pastore celebrates scoring Paris St Germain's crucial third goal against Chelsea

Willian, who has been serving a Premier League ban, was brought back, allowing Mourinho to push Andre Schurrle further forward.

The total value of Mourinho's starting line-up was £178.9m, which was marginally more than PSG's £174.2m team that included an intimidating front three of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Lavezzi.

STIFLE

Mourinho's plan to try to stifle PSG appeared to be blowing up in his face after just four minutes, as terrible defending allowed Lavezzi to open the scoring. Luiz lost possession cheaply, allowing the French team to attack.

Blaise Matuidi's cross from the left should have been comfortably dealt with, but captain John Terry headed the ball straight to the feet of Lavezzi, who fired past Cech.

There was more bad news for Mourinho, as Ramires was yellow carded for hacking down Lavezzi on the left and the midfielder will be suspended for the second leg. Chelsea's immediate concern, however, was to simply stay in the tie as PSG poured forwards and targeted the right side of Mourinho's defence. Ibrahimovic had been relatively quiet in the home side's fast start, but the Swede produced a wonderful pass to set Lavezzi away. Gary Cahill did well to keep pace with the forward and force him to shoot into the side-netting.

Having survived the let-off, Chelsea were handed a lifeline as Thiago Silva produced a rash challenge on Oscar and referee Milorad Mazic had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Hazard slotted the coolest of penalties past Salvatore Sirigu to send Mourinho wild in the technical area.

If the spot-kick underlined the desire of the PSG money men to try to snare Hazard, then an outrageous piece of skill from the Belgian will only have reinforced Chelsea's desire to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

Willian crossed from the right and Hazard produced a superb angled volley that beat Sirigu, but cannoned back off the post.

PSG screamed for a penalty of their own on the stroke of half-time, when Cavani went down under an aerial challenge from Cahill. This time Mazic was unmoved.

Ibrahimovic was dropping deeper and deeper to try to influence the game and four minutes into the second half, he attempted to flick a pass over the top of the Chelsea defence but it ran straight through for Cech.

Chelsea were relieved to see Lavezzi narrowly head over after being picked out by another Matuidi left-wing cross.

Mourinho decided it was time to send on a striker with just over half-an-hour remaining, as Torres replaced Schurrle, who had struggled to try to hold up the ball or offer his team an outlet.

Luiz had grown into the game after his early mistake, picking up Ibrahimovic when he looked for the ball and pressing Marco Verratti into errors and misplaced passes. But the Brazilian ruined his good work in the space of 60 seconds by giving away the free-kick from which he then scored a 61st-minute own goal.

Luiz unnecessarily brought down Matuidi on the left and Lavezzi swung in a brilliant set-piece that the Chelsea man bundled into his own net.

A disappointing night for Ibrahimovic was completed with little over 20 minutes remaining, as he was forced off with an injury and replaced by Lucas Moura. Luiz was one of three Chelsea players Moura danced around before trying to set-up Cavani, who could not apply a finish to what would have been a superb goal.

Cavani almost scored with a brilliant curling shot, but a third goal came in stoppage time as Pastore wriggled his way in from the right and beat Cech at his near post. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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