Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:29 pm
Paris St. Germain have reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal after coming away from Stamford Bridge with a highly dramatic 2-2 draw with Chelsea, sealing passage by virtue of away goals.
Following a 1-1 draw a fortnight ago in Paris, the least Chelsea needed for qualification was a goalless draw while PSG needed at least a score draw to have any chance of qualifying.
It was the visitors that edged proceedings early on but rather than a goal, it was a controversial call from the referee on the half-hour mark that truly sparked the match to life.
A 50-50 tussle for possession between PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and Chelsea’s Oscar ended with Dutch referee Björn Kuipers showing a straight red card to the PSG striker, having been surrounded by nine Chelsea players in the aftermath of the challenge.
Five minutes later, Oscar was lucky not to have followed Zlatan down the tunnel for an early bath after the already booked Brazilian pulled Marco Veratti back with tempers threatening to boil over.
Two minutes later and Oscar got the eventful game’s first shot on target, though his 20-yard effort was straight at PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu who saved comfortably.
The closing minutes of the opening half saw Diego Costa have a penalty shout waved aside despite being tripped in the area by Edinson Cavani while Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved a deflected 35-yard effort from former Chelsea defender David Luiz.
Willian replaced Brazilian compatriot Oscar during the half-time break and the substitute did not take long to make his presence felt, forcing Sirigu to punch a low, goal-bound freekick clear three minutes into the second half.
The best chance of breaking the deadlock however came just before the hour mark when a defence – splitting pass from Thiago Motta sent Cavani through on goal.
The Uruguayan striker then took the ball round Courtois but could only steer his effort against the post from a tight angle with the ball rolling across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
That missed chance was punished with 10 minutes to go as PSG failed to deal with a Willian cornerkick, which eventually fell to an unmarked Gary Cahill to smash home from seven yards out.
But like the script of an intriguing play, former Blues defender David Luiz powered a header in off the crossbar to equalise for PSG with five minutes to go, forcing the match to extra time with aggregate scores tied at 2-2.
Eden Hazard however restored Chelsea’s lead five minutes into extra time, coolly slotting home from the penalty spot after PSG captain Thiago Silva was adjudged to have handled in the area though replays suggested otherwise.
That goal nonetheless spurred PSG in search of one more goal which would see the French champions qualify and it almost came through Luiz whose long range freekick was tipped over by Courtois early in the second period of extra time.
With time running out for PSG, Silva tried to make amends with a downward header towards goal but Courtois did well to keep the ball out of goal.
The Belgian shot-stopper however had no answer a minute later when Silva lost his marker in the Chelsea area and powerfully looped a header in over Courtois for a redeeming equaliser five minutes to the end to win the tie for the 10-man visitors on away goals.