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Cavani pounces late to give PSG narrow advantage over Chelsea

Lee Gormley | February 16, 2016

PSG 2-1 Chelsea

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores from free-kick after 39 minutes
  • John Obi Mikel nets equaliser with last kick of first-half
  • Substitute Edinson Cavani bags winner late on
  • PSG earn 2-1 first leg victory

Cavani gifts PSG first leg win

French champions PSG overcame Guus Hiddink’s travelling Chelsea at the Parc des Princes thanks to a well-taken strike from second-half substitute Edinson Cavani, earning Laurent Blanc’s hosts a 2-1 last 16 first leg victory in the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Parc des Princes

Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his first ever goal against the Londoners in the first-half, with his free-kick taking a wicked deflection off the wall, before unlikely poacher John Obi Mikel levelled proceedings from close-range before half-time.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in this latest European meeting, Uruguayan frontman Cavani then secured a slender advantage to take to Stamford Bridge in two weeks, though Mikel’s away goal could yet prove decisive in London.

Trapp denies Costa in PSG-dominated opening

The hosts began the brightest of the two capital clubs, playing with the confidence and freedom that has been gained from such a dominant domestic campaign, having won 16 of their last 17 Ligue 1 outings.

Brazilian forward Lucas Moura looked a dangerous threat in the opening moments, unleashing a shot which fizzed narrowly past Thibaut Courtois’ left post, while midfield maestro Marco Verratti was dictating proceedings centrally.

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Parc des Princes

Sweden sharpshooter Ibrahimovic was an imposing presence for the Chelsea backline to deal with, as expected, and almost capitalised on a promisingly positioned free-kick, sending his long-range effort just wide after 11 minutes.

Although, despite PSG’s superior possession in the first 19 minutes, their leading marksman was shown a yellow card for a strong challenge on Mikel, with the striker walking on thin ice after being sent off in this fixture last season.

After 22 minutes at the Parc des Princes, Hiddink’s visitors looked to have taken a shock lead against the run of play, with Diego Costa latching onto a pinpoint left-sided delivery from youngster Baba Rahman, but Kevin Trapp denied him with a sensational reflex save.

Zlatan and Mikel strike before break

Ibrahimovic was gifted with chance to header his side in front after half-an-hour, as the towering Swede connected with a superb cross from Angel Di Maria, but the presence of Gary Cahill was enough to put him off and as his tamed attempt failed to trouble Courtois.

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Parc des Princes

Mikel was the first Chelsea man to find himself in the referee’s book after abruptly halting a dazzling run forward from Lucas, with Ibrahimovic’s subsequent set-piece taking a lucky deflection off the wall-based offender to give PSG a deserved lead before half-time.

Instantly going from zero to hero, Nigerian midfielder Mikel swiftly redeemed himself at the other end with the last kick of the first-half, smashing home a vital leveller from close-range following a crucial corner knockdown from Costa to make it 1-1.

End-to-End action in second period

The Blues had clearly gained a huge boost from their last-gasp first-half equaliser, coming out for the second period with more confidence on the ball, and Costa almost sent them in front following a lightning burst from Willian through the middle, but Trapp stood tall to thwart any threat.

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Roaming PSG left back Maxwell found himself in plenty of space down the left flank before the hour mark, sending in a cross intended for Ibrahimovic, but the defensive duo of Cahill and stand-in skipper Branislav Ivanovic.

It was end-to-end action after an hour played in Paris, with Maxwell’s influence growing down the left flank, while former Manchester United target Marquinhos was enjoying himself on the opposite side. Though Ivanovic was performing heroically in place of John Terry as centre back and captain in this European encounter.

After Trapp had saved several attempts from the Chelsea strikeforce, it was Courtois’ turn for an acrobatic denial, as the Belgian number one got down to his right to halt Di Maria’s dangerously whipped free-kick.

PSG see out slender first leg lead

Eden Hazard failed to make much of an impact in Paris and was replaced by Brazilian Oscar in the latter stages, while Blanc thrust Edinson Cavani into proceedings in place of a tiring Lucas.

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Parc des Princes

Thiago Silva was enjoying a testing battle with Chelsea frontman Costa, halting the Brazilian-born Spain striker from adding a second away goal, while substitute Cavani struck immediately at the other end to give PSG a narrow 2-1 lead after 78 minutes.

The Uruguayan previously netted against Chelsea for former club Napoli and inflicted further misery on the Blues in Paris, as he tucked home a sublimely lofted through ball from fellow South American Di Maria.

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PSG are aiming to become one of the leading clubs in European football and took one step closer to that feat with an impressive 2-1 first leg triumph, as a promising second leg at Stamford Bridge beckons.

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