Paris - A first-half away goal by Branislav Ivanovic and some fine
goalkeeping by Thibaut Courtois have put Chelsea in command of their
Champions League last-16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain as Tuesday's first
leg ended 1-1.
Ivanovic headed in on 36 minutes after Gary Cahill
had helped the ball into his path to give Chelsea the lead from their
first and only chance of the evening at the Parc des Princes.
Cavani replied with a header of his own in the 54th minute and PSG
enjoyed the bulk of the chances but Courtois intervened time and again
to keep the Premier League leaders on level terms.
side should now fancy their chances of progressing to the
quarter-finals when the second leg comes around in London on March 11,
with Paris needing to score in that game to keep the tie alive.
was something Laurent Blanc's side failed to do when the teams met in
the last eight a year ago, allowing Chelsea to go through on away goals
despite losing the first leg 3-1 in France.
Seven points clear at
the top of the Premier League, Chelsea are a stronger side than they
were then, while PSG had been forced to deal with something of an injury
crisis in the build-up to this game.
With Lucas, Thiago Motta and
Yohan Cabaye among the players on the sidelines, Blanc opted to start
David Luiz in midfield against his former club while Marquinhos lined up
in central defence despite being a doubt ahead of the game.
were at full strength but their chief creator, Cesc Fabregas, struggled
to make an impact on the match up against the combative Luiz.
cagey opening, it was the hosts who created what chances there were,
with Blaise Matuidi the first to test Courtois on 11 minutes with a
header from a Cavani cross.
The Belgian goalkeeper was equal to
that effort and was called into action again seconds later to keep out a
Zlatan Ibrahimovic header from a Matuidi centre.
his fellow forwards were afforded little space in the final third and
they had to wait until after the half-hour mark to trouble Courtois
again, Cavani seeing his near-post header from Ezequiel Lavezzi's corner
Chelsea were happy to
soak up the pressure and hit Paris with a sucker punch nine minutes
before the interval thanks to a rare attacking combination between three
of their back four, Ivanovic stealing in behind Luiz to head home after
Cahill had flicked on a Terry cross.
However, those defenders
hardly covered themselves in glory as PSG drew level nine minutes after
the restart, leaving Cavani completely unmarked to head home his 17th
goal of the season -- his sixth in the Champions League -- from a
Matuidi left-wing cross.
With their backs to the wall, Paris came
out fighting in the second half and Chelsea were again grateful to the
outstanding Courtois as he saved from Ibrahimovic before Lavezzi's
follow-up was blocked just in front of the line.
preferred to Petr Cech between the posts by Mourinho, then got his
fingertips to a Luiz header from a Lavezzi free-kick.
unbeaten record at home this season did not appear under threat in the
closing stages, but they could not get the winning goal on the night.
put a glorious chance wide of the far post 10 minutes from time and,
when Ibrahimovic got a header on target in stoppage time, that man
Courtois was on hand yet again to save Chelsea.