Ivanovic scores valuable away goal
Paris, February 18
Chelsea took a valuable away goal from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain, though they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw at Parc des Princes.Branislav Ivanovic headed Jose Mourinho’s side into the lead on Tuesday, finishing off a move which saw his fellow defenders, John Terry and Gary Cahill, combine in advanced positions to set him up in the 36th minute.
PSG fought back in the second half, however, with Edinson Cavani pouncing on slack marking to deposit a free header past Thibaut Courtois, and the Uruguayan nearly had a second when he slipped through the back line in the 80th minute only to prod just wide.
PSG looked the more likely to fashion a winner but were routinely denied by off-target finishing and returning Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, whose goal they will certainly have to breach again in the second leg at Stamford Bridge in March.
Counting the cost of a dramatic draw against Caen at the weekend, PSG were without Yohan Cabaye, Serge Aurier and Lucas Moura but made a composed start nevertheless as Blaise Matuidi drew Courtois into action with a firm header.
Courtois had to deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s header soon afterwards and Cavani also worked the Belgian with a similar effort after Chelsea were caught napping from an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner 11 minutes before the break.
Chelsea were boosted by the return of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas but Salvatore Sirigu had been little more than a spectator until he was forced to pick the ball out of his net nine minutes before the break.
Much is made of Chelsea’s attacking prowess but it was their defenders who combined for the opening goal as Terry’s cross was flicked on by Cahill and the unmarked Ivanovic was on hand to head home.
PSG must have wondered how they were behind at the break but they were level early in the second half when Cavani capitalised on some slack marking from Cahill to head home Matuidi’s inviting cross from six yards out.
The hosts were dominant and Courtois did well to palm away a left-footed strike from Ibrahimovic on the hour before Cesar Azpilicueta blocked Lavezzi’s effort following up.
David Luiz came close to putting PSG in front against his former club but the Brazilian defender’s header took a slight deflection before landing on the roof of the net.
As PSG searched for an advantage, Cavani aimed just wide and Courtois once again came to the rescue to claw away Ibrahimovic’s downward header – putting Chelsea firmly in the driving seat for a place in the last eight.