The French champions kicked off with a 3-1 lead and were in complete control after 30 minutes, but ended up blowing a glorious chance to prove themselves as a major European force
By Mark Doyle
They say that the most important thing for the away side in any European tie is to silence the home crowd. Midway through the first half of Tuesday's quarter-final second leg clash between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge, the only voices that could be heard were those of the visiting side's supporters, who were responding to every touch the Ligue 1 champions were enjoying with a hearty 'Ole!'.
It was horribly premature - even without the benefit of hindsight - but it was also understandable. PSG were in complete control. It was almost too easy. There had been no storm to weather. Chelsea saw plenty of the ball in the opening 20 minutes but appeared utterly incapable of doing anything with it. Playing on the front foot looked predictably alien to Jose Mourinho's counterattacking line-up. Furthermore, Eden Hazard had been forced off through injury, thus depriving Chelsea of their most creative and incisive attacking talent.
|MATCH FACTS | Chelsea 2-0 PSG
PSG were rattled, instantly incapable of dealing with set-pieces. Gary Cahill fluffed a glorious chance to put Chelsea ahead in the tie when the ball dropped for him in the area after coming off the back of Edinson Cavani. Just moments before half-time, the latter was booked for failing to step away from a David Luiz free kick. In the space of 15 minutes, PSG had lost all control and composure. They never regained it either.
Thiago Silva did his best to rally the troops with a spirited pep talk during a huddle just before the start of the second half, but the fear had taken hold. PSG dropped deeper and deeper in the second half. Blanc realised that this was no longer any game for a deep-lying playmaker like Marco Verratti, so the youngster was replaced by Yoan Cabaye, who, it was hoped, would drag his side forward.
But PSG had taken too many backward steps. It was too late to try to take the game to Chelsea; it was all about survival now. They were fortunate enough to see the bar twice come to their rescue, with Schurrle and Oscar both striking the woodwork. But their luck finally, and justly, ran out with just three minutes remaining when Demba Ba bundled the ball home from close range.
It was an ugly goal but this was an even uglier defeat for PSG. This was the big test of their Champions League-winning credentials and not only did they fail it, they did so pathetically, paying the price for their complacency and utter inability to respond positively to adversity, either tactically or mentally.
Blanc reasoned before the game that while PSG's primary goal was to win the Champions League, it could yet be some while before they get their hands on the trophy. That was about the one thing he could say he got right after this game.
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