Paris Saint-Germain cemented another famous night in the club’s history by beating Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge last night and thus going through 4-2 on aggregate. Les Parisiens are through to their fourth-successive quarter-final thanks to goals from Adrien Rabiot and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It is the first ever win on English shores for the French champions and yet another storied chapter in the club’s history. To overcome a European juggernaut such as Chelsea – despite their troubles this season – for the second consecutive year has to be applauded. This is a big, big step forward again and one that the supporters can be mightily proud of.
The main question pre-match from a Paris perspective was who would play in midfield? Marco Verratti missed out all together but big bad Blaise Matuidi made it, which was a huge boost for us. We desperately needed his legs in midfield for a game of such magnitude away from home.
The first-half was frenetic to say the least; a proper game! But, we almost gifted the hosts an early lead by playing too casually from the back. Rabiot, in for Verratti, misplaced a pass which resulted in Diego Costa having a shot on goal that Kevin Trapp saved.
We responded well from that minor mishap. Our ball retention was spot on but Chelsea were happy to get men back and absorb the pressure. They would then spring clever counter attacks as soon as they won the ball which were working to an absolute tee. Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro were all giving the Parisian back-line a headache or two.
On the 16th minute, we took the lead thanks to the man who came in for little Marco, Rabiot. Angel di Maria, our best player in the opening 45, slid the ball out to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who subsequently rolled the ball on a plate at the far post for the Frenchman to slide home past Thibaut Courtois. You have to credit him for the sheer desire to attack the ball and was able to get there ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta.
That goal was huge for us! You could sense it in our swagger but there were a few occasions in which that was a hindrance to us. We lost the ball at the back on a number of occasions by being a little too clever but we stuck to our principal of playing from the back.
The Blues would level though via Costa after Pedro dispossessed Thiago Motta in the middle of the pitch. The men in blue swarmed towards our penalty area and the man leading the line finished superbly after bamboozling Thiago Silva.
Following the interval, there was a turning point when Costa had to come off injured. He was replaced by the inexperienced Bertrand Traore which was a blessing for us as the DC was a constant thorn in our side.
The tie was very much in the balance up until the 67th minute when the big man Ibrahimovic put the tie beyond all doubt and cemented a famous night for Paris Saint-Germain. Two players were key in the build-up to this. Motta caught Chelsea completely unawares with a precise through ball to Angel di Maria on the left hand side. As he has done so many times this season, the Argentine put it on a plate for the Swede to thrash home!
It has to be noted that just prior to that, Trapp made a fantastic double save from Willian and then Hazard. The German was instrumental in our victory because it would have been a completely different tie had one of those shots gone in.
After Ibra’s goal the game was pretty much put to bed with 20 minutes remaining. The match petered out as we controlled possession. It was nowhere near as tense as the second-leg last season – thankfully – but it’s still as sweet as anything to overcome a good Chelsea team.
As I said prior to the first-leg, all the pressure was on PSG. For the first time in over two decades, we were the favourites for a European heavyweight clash and we lived up to the billing. It is another proud night in this clubs history. And four successive quarter-finals in Europe is not bad for a club born three years ago (I kid Zlatan!).
Roll on the last-eight. Please just don’t give us Barcelona again…