Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed all the headlines on Wednesday night. The enigmatic Swede was imperious against Chelsea and capped it off with the winner to send us through to the last-eight, 4-2 on aggregate. As much as the big man warranted the adulation, someone who was just as important to the win kind of slipped under the radar. Kevin Trapp, take a bow!
The German goalkeeper was integral for both victories against the English champions. He has had one or two wobbles this season that have made the PSG supporters a little bit wary. Salvatore Sirigu is a popular figure at the club and although he didn’t have his best season in 2014/15, a lot of the supporters are still very much ‘Team Sirigu’. Some of them have even chanted his name during games. Trapp has had to come in and try and prove himself from day one! His two displays in the first and second leg alone will have gone a long way in doing that.
He was exceptional. You can count three or four key moments during the 180 minutes that were pivotal. The first was at the Parc des Princes. Diego Costa found himself in the penalty area all alone as he alluded the defence to get a header on target. The whole of the stadium gasped as they expected the ball to hit the back of the net but Trapp somehow got his fingertip to it and managed to divert it onto the crossbar. It was a wonderful save, arguably the best of the competition this season. Had that gone in, Chelsea will have taken the lead, got an early away goal and who knows what may have transpired. In the end, we won 2-1.
The second was his save in the opening stages of the return leg on Wednesday. Adrien Rabiot’s misplaced pass was picked up by the Blues and it was that man again Diego Costa who got an effort on target. Trapp was there to deny him! It’s a save he should make; nevertheless it was important. We can be our own worst enemy by trying to play from the back in tight spaces – especially in a game of this magnitude – but big Kev was there to get his peers out of jail after they lost the ball.
Then the pivotal moment(s), which allowed PSG to put the tie beyond all doubt. Willian’s vicious effort from distance was parried out and he was able to get up to deny Eden Hazard’s follow up. Moments later, Ibrahimovic makes it 2-1 on the night, two away goals and effectively knocks Chelsea out of the competition with 20 minutes to play. Those two saves were vital! Had one of those gone in, the 2012 European Cup winners would have been in the ascendency.
These are such fine margins at this level. Trapp played a massive part in getting Les Parisiens through to a fourth consecutive quarter-final. For that, he deserves .