Chelsea vs PSG match report: Thiago Silva's extra-time bullet header dumps Chelsea out of Europe despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic red

Chelsea 2 PSG 2 (aet. 3-3 on aggregate - PSG through on away goals)

Sam Wallace
Wednesday 11 March 2015 23:24

Of all the ways Jose Mourinho might have imagined a Champions League elimination, he could hardly have conceived of an evening when Paris Saint Germain’s team of expensively-assembled superstars assumed the Stamford Bridge FA Cup spirit of Bradford City.

It would have been a remarkable performance from the French side in any circumstances, but to play 90 minutes of this game without their star and chief goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, erroneously sent off, made this a benchmark night in the history of the PSG. Twice they came from behind, eventually to win the tie on away goals in extra-time and for most of that you would scarcely have believed that they only had ten men on the pitch.

Later Mourinho would admit that his team froze under the pressure of trying to win a game from a position that looked unassailable while PSG revelled in the freedom of their task. Chelsea were not at their best, far from it, and there were worrying signs for their manager in a season when his side were supposed to have matured into a team capable of winning this competition.

That said, their goals from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard’s penalty should have been enough. Yet they failed in a discipline which they usually handle with ease, conceding both goals from headers from corners from David Luiz and then Thiago Silva. That said it was a stupendous effort from PSG, and at the end even Chelsea seemed to accept that.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic immediately after challenging Oscar

Mourinho will ask why Costa did not get a first half penalty. Laurent Blanc, however, deserves an explanation for Ibrahimovic’s red card. It was a swine of a decision for the referee Bjorn Kuipers to have to make, a blur of a tackle between the great Swede and Chelsea’s Oscar, but Kuipers got it wrong and so a great cup tie, was turned on its head.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic goes off after being shown a red card

What no-one was expecting from that moment was the great PSG performance that ensued. They might have been mistaken for a team of mercenaries in the past, but this time Blanc’s side were superb.

In the aftermath of the Ibrahimovic clash with Oscar, there were eight Chelsea players around the referee Kuipers and he got his red card out his pocket with the haste of a man over-eager to pay the bill; so much so that he bodged the dramatic reveal-and-flourish.

The dismissal of Ibrahimovic was another one of those human dramas that makes the modern game so intriguing and so frustrating. This was a match played on the tightest of margins. So tight that a moment’s delay of a sensible pass would guarantee its interception, one in which the smallest gap or delay represented a significant opening for one of the two teams.

Gary Cahill puts Chelsea in front

In other words, there was an extremely high-level of competence, if not goalscoring chances, and then the referee Kuipers intervened. It was already a hard game to referee before he made that monumental decision, a game in which there was a good chance that he could be deceived by the sheer pace at which it was played.

As Oscar and Ibrahimovic went for the ball it was the Brazilian’s leading leg, his right, that was fully extended and his studs up. Ibrahimovic had folded his legs to a greater degree and contact was made right leg to right leg around the ankle area. The reaction of Oscar - hand over face, protestations of agony - seemed to influence the referee. By contrast, Ibrahimovic, propped himself up on one knee and looked composed.

David Luiz celebrates after making the score 1-1

At that point, Kuipers was surrounded by some Chelsea players telling him what to do and others signalling for the stretcher with the urgency of bystanders summoning an ambulance. Kuipers emerged from that pack of blue shirts with his red card already in his hand.

Until then PSG had tried to take the game to Chelsea, while Chelsea had got themselves in the right position to control their opponents and attacked on the break. Neither had created a chance worthy of note but pressure points had started to develop, not least with David Luiz, back in the centre of defence, whose fraying temper was made worse by the red card.

Four minutes before half-time he caught his fellow Brazilian Diego Costa with an elbow off the ball and the Spain international dropped to the floor without Kuipers seeing a thing. The friction between the two had begun much earlier and later Costa had offered the hand of friendship although this collision signalled the end of that.

Eden Hazard scored a penalty but he needed to do more

And then, when Kuipers must have been wondering whether it could get any worse for him, it did. On 43 minutes, Costa went on a brilliant run – part dribble, part stumble and ricochet – that took him into the box and towards a shooting position. Having beaten Edinson Cavani, the Urguayan clearly thrust out a leg and tripped Costa, but no penalty was given.

In spite of that, it was a tie that, at half-time, was made for Mourinho’s team to win. He changed Willian for Oscar with the former on a booking. PSG were depleted and missing their star player and yet they were superb in the second half.

It was, quite simply, a heroic effort from the French side. At the heart of it was Marco Verratti probing with passes from midfield where Nemanja Matic, back in the team after his domestic suspension, and Fabregas, were quiet. Not only Verratti, but Javier Pastore was impressive too and between them they created the chance of the game for Cavani.

He should have scored, especially when he made such a good job of deceiving Thibaut Courtois and dribbling around the goalkeeper. From the left side, his shot struck the inside of the near post and bounced across the goal and out for a goal-kick – a strange bit of geometry. It was a great opportunity and Blanc’s frustration on the touchline said a lot.

Thiago Silva celebrates PSG's decisive second goal

Nevertheless, PSG kept trying to break Chelsea down. Having failed to exact revenge on Luiz, Costa sought out Maxwell for a bad late tackle and was booked. Not wishing to be excluded, Luiz intervened and was booked as well.

Then came the breakthrough for Chelsea. They had barely created a chance before Ramires had a shot saved at the near post by Salvatore Sirigu and from the ensuing corner, PSG made a mess of the clearance and from Costa’s scuffed shot it fell to Cahill to lash in from a few yards.

Blanc made changes immediately, bringing on Ezequiel Lavezzi and Adrien Rabiot and within minutes PSG were level. Pastore’s skill and chip forced the corner and Luiz was unmarked when he headed the ball firmly past Courtois.

By this time, with all the attendant aggravation, there was not a thought given by Luiz to curtailing the celebration at his former club, and quite right too. Into extra-time the game went. Mourinho replaced Ramires with Didier Drogba and he took Costa’s place as the centre-forward, with Costa moved to the right.

The second Chelsea goal was a personal disaster for Thiago Silva who inexplicably extended a hand in a challenge with the substitute Kurt Zouma and touched the ball. This time, there were no protests. Eden Hazard dispatched the penalty. In the final minutes of the game, Courtois saved brilliantly from Thiago Silva’s header from a corner. Then the next one came over and this time Silva found the space to beat Courtois and win an extraordinary cup tie on away goals.

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