Chelsea crash out of Champions League to nemesis PSG in last-16
Chelsea can have no complaints as the hosts bow out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 to Paris Saint-Germain for the second year in a row.
The Blues, already facing an uphill battle by losing the first-leg 2-1, could only lose tonight’s return home leg in similar academic fashion, meaning the SW6 side have only the FA Cup to play for on Saturday.
Rabiot looked to have planted PSG into the quarter-finals when his early tap-in gave his side a 3-1 aggregate lead, but Costa did well to equalise. The Blues had a whole host of chances to hit PSG for more straight after the equaliser but were wasteful in their end product, and it would pay when Ibrahimovic wrapped things up in the second half.
Paris were all business from the off. Ibrahimovic had the ball in the back of the net after just six minutes but was lazily caught offside. Six minutes later a quick PSG free-kick fooled everyone and Ibrahimovic was again free at the far post, but again caught offside.
The warning signs were there but it would be third time lucky for the Parisian side, with Ibrahimovic this time the architect of the chance. Neat possession saw the ball looped to the Swede, who capitalised on Cahill’s complete indecision about whether to stay tight to him or retreat to his penalty box. In the end he did neither and Ibrahimovic took the ball out wide and squared to Rabiot to tap in.
It was a stupid goal to concede with some shocking defending, and no wonder the injured captain John Terry looked on glumly from the touchline.
Chelsea tried to turn up a gear but they had to. Hazard twice tried his luck but from long range and nothing meaningful to test Trapp. Costa could have benefited from a lucky bounce but failed to steer his offside shot on target.
He would get his goal before the half-hour mark. Some superb hounding from Pedro saw PSG lose the ball and Willian charged forward. His pass to Costa was inviting, the Spaniard cut back onto his left and side-footed past Trapp. Chelsea were behind for just 11 minutes.
PSG looked to hit back: Kenedy was caught wide, Ivanovic could not cover Moura and Ibrahimovic leapt superbly above Azpilicueta but Courtois was there.
The game was fast-paced and Chelsea were straight up at the other end with a Willian free-kick. Brych, the referee for Chelsea’s 4-1 extra-time miracle against Napoli four years ago, was lenient with his cards but there was no escaping a yellow for Rabiot in the process. The free-kick was regrettably weak.
Willian was quicker than Luiz in reach the ball and his cross to Fabregas was good, but the Spaniard’s daisy-cutter was not. The Blues were much quicker and more incisive after their goal, with much higher pressing from the wingers and Hazard used Costa as a dummy to get his own shot away, but his shot did not curl enough away from Trapp’s hands.
Silva saved PSG’s skins again when pick-pocketed in midfield again, but Costa lost the ball when he had both Hazard and Pedro to find on either side.
Costa shot well, Trapp flapped at gathering the tame shot and Pedro raced in for another corner. It would be the last action of a frentic first half.
The tide turned in Chelsea’s favour mid-way through the first half and it was Chelsea’s at the start of the second half too. Willian displayed his lightning-quick turn of pace to free Hazard but his shot was charged down as Chelsea looked to get going, knowing conceding another would mean they would need to score three more.
Costa had the ball in the net but again was lazily caught offside, but his game would be over after the hour with a muscle injury. Enter Bertrand Traore.
But you cannot argue with PSG’s fire-power, which boasts Ibrahimovic and Cavani as one and two.
And it was the former who would kill off all hopes. Di Maria was in acres of space down Chelsea’s left and his inch-perfect cross saw Courtois scrambling and Ibrahimovic side-footing home.
Hazard fancied the rest of the match off and Oscar entered, but the Chelsea bubble burst — half-time just came at the wrong time and Chelsea’s flailing season, bar an FA Cup run, is over in early-March.
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PEDRO: Worked hard and pressed well to give Costa the chance for the equaliser. Willian was the centre man flanked by Hazard and Pedro but the former certainly could not deliver and so it was on Pedro to make those runs and track back accordingly. He did his job, but not enough of his team-mates did and the Blues can have no complaints. 6/10
Hiddink was honest in his assessment: “We gave too much respect in the first 10 minutes, they were dominating. They are a good side but once we stepped up we had some chances. In the 67th minute it all changed. We had a good chance to score, then Diego Costa was injured.”