Ten-man PSG take revenge over Chelsea

Thiago Silva scored a sensational extra-time header as 10-man Paris Saint-Germain knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League after an electrifying 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Ten-man PSG take revenge over Chelsea
PSG players celebrate after beating Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League. Photo: AFP

PSG had talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off in the first half and fell behind to a Gary Cahill goal with nine minutes remaining, only for Chelsea old boy David Luiz to take the tie to extra time with an emphatic 86th-minute header.

Silva appeared to have gifted Chelsea a place in the last eight after conceding a penalty for handball that Eden Hazard converted, but the PSG captain scored with six minutes of the game remaining to send Laurent Blanc's side through on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

"If you analyse both matches, being fair, PSG's qualification is deserved," Blanc said.

"We tried to play more football than Chelsea and we created more dangerous chances. It was a fantastic performance by the whole squad."

The irony of the scoreline will not have been lost on PSG, who were eliminated by Chelsea on away goals in last season's quarter-finals after another 3-3 draw, but their breakthrough victory was richly deserved after a mature and resolute display on a tense and fractious night.

The French champions' dreams of an unprecedented quadruple remain intact, while Jose Mourinho will have to wait at least another season for an opportunity to win the Champions League with his beloved Chelsea.

"Our performance was not good enough," the Chelsea manager told Sky Sports.

"The opponent was stronger than us. They coped better with the pressure of the games. Because they had 10 men, we felt more the pressure of winning and they had nothing to lose."

It was a game almost totally devoid of incident until a moment of controversy in the 32nd minute that thrust referee Bjorn Kuipers beneath the spotlight beams.

After a PSG move broke down, Ibrahimovic showed a shade too much eagerness to regain possession by sliding in on Oscar, but although he caught the Brazilian on the ankle, both players were equally committed to the challenge and the red card that followed felt excessive.

PSG were, understandably, rattled, with Thiago Motta booked for dissent, and Chelsea threatened to capitalise, with Diego Costa denied a penalty after clearly being caught on the lower leg by Edinson Cavani.

But PSG kept their shape well and shortly before the hour they came within inches of going ahead.

– Verratti incurs suspension –

A brisk move down the centre of the pitch involvingMarco Verratti and Javier Pastore saw the latter release Cavani, who neatly skirted Thibaut Courtois, only to hit the left-hand post from an angle with the goal at his mercy.

PSG continued to press, Cahill blocking from Blaise Matuidi and Courtois saving from Pastore, and with the tie on a knife-edge, tempers began to fray.

Costa was booked for a dangerous late challenge on Silva and in the aftermath, Luiz received a yellow card for trying to claim he had been headbutted by the Chelsea striker.

Moments later Verratti, too, saw yellow, for fouling Hazard, ruling him out of the first leg of the quarter-final.

After Sirigu had thwarted Ramires at his near post, Chelsea broke the deadlock from a corner when Costa took an air shot and the ball fell kindly for Cahill to slam home.

But after PSG substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi had seen a header saved by Sirigu, his corner allowed Luiz to take the tie to extra time with a thumping near-post header that cannoned into the net via the crossbar.

Silva's recent performances have suggested a return to his optimum level, but he was guilty of a rush of blood to the head early in extra time when he challenged Kurt Zouma for a high ball with his arms way above his head.

Replays were inconclusive as to whether he actually made contact with the ball, but Hazard made no mistake from the spot.

Courtois saved brilliantly from a Luiz free-kick and a Silva header, but the PSG captain had the final say with a goal that settled a breathless and dizzying contest and took the visitors into a new dimension.

"The goal at the end was incredible," Silva told beIN Sports. "For me, for this team, for the club."


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OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP