Returning to Stamford Bridge with at least a foothold in the second leg was the minimum requirement Jose Mourinho would have asked his players, and thanks to Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty, Chelsea hold a valuable away goal. PSG were always going to make life tough, and the Ligue 1 leaders were at times exceptional, dominating all areas of the pitch. They were perhaps unlucky to go behind, as Thiago Silva handed Chelsea a lifeline with a rash tackle on Oscar inside the box. Hazard’s penalty offers Chelsea something to build on back in west London, and the Blues will need to hope home comforts can help them overturn the two goal deficit.
Where Mourinho set up somewhat conservatively in the absence of Samuel Eto’o, Laurent Blanc’s home side showed their attacking intent from the first whistle by putting Chelsea under pressure. Andre Schurrle looked like a passenger employed in the false-nine position for the visitors, while the ultra-attacking frontline of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic got to work early on. Lavezzi’s high-quality improvised finish after three minutes gave PSG the perfect start, but it took until the second half for them to really ignite. As the clock ticked on they turned the screw on Chelsea, and goals from David Luiz and Javier Pastore gave them a substantial lead to take into the second leg. Pastore’s twinkling toes with basically the last kick of the game will be remembered fondly, but the foundations for the victory were laid much earlier.
Often overlooked by the Paris plaudits in favour of Cavani and Ibrahimovic, Pastore reminded everyone why PSG parted with a cool £40m to beat Chelsea to his signature in 2012. Brought on with five minutes remaining in place of the tiring Lavezzi, Pastore’s sleight of foot not only got him out of what looked like an impossible position on the byline, but allowed him to wriggle past a further two players and beat Petr Cech at the near post. The match lacked the anticipated spark, save for the final minute, courtesy of a man keen to stake his place in the starting eleven in London.
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