A fine display from Ezequiel Lavezzi was the catalyst for a confident performance from the hosts, with Eden Hazard's first-half penalty providing a glimmer of hope for the BluesChelsea face an uphill battle to reach the Champions League semi-finals after losing 3-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
The French champions showed the full array of the attacking flair that has put them on the verge of defending their Ligue 1 crown this term to claim a healthy advantage on Wednesday, leaving Chelsea with plenty to do in the return clash at Stamford Bridge next week.
|By Liam Twomey
For a time it looked as if Jose Mourinho might be able to pull off another textbook away performance in the Champions League, but in the end his Chelsea side were hopelessly outgunned by Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital.
Mourinho's decision to start Andre Schurrle up front was less of a bold tactical switch and more of a desperate cry for help, and the German achieved little beyond hassling the PSG backline. That said, he still affected the game more than substitute Fernando Torres, who is ending his Chelsea career with the faintest of whimpers.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, Chelsea's tormentor at Napoli two years ago, punished them again, while substitutes Yohan Cabaye, Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore highlighted the gulf in resources between these two sides. The visitors hardly helped themselves, though, with a slew of costly defensive errors.
They face a mountain to climb at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday, and must scale it without Ramires, who picked up his second booking of the tournament with a petulant foul. The Blues have recovered from worse positions in Europe but, all in all, there are few reasons for Mourinho to be optimistic.
But Chelsea were back on level terms shortly before the half-hour mark when Eden Hazard converted from the penalty spot after Thiago Silva had carelessly felled Oscar in the box.
Hazard then hit the post before the end of the first half as Chelsea pushed for the lead, but David Luiz found his own net - after giving away a cheap free kick - to restore PSG's lead.
PSG talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic was worryingly withdrawn in the second half, appearing to be nursing a hamstring injury.
But the French side soon forgot about that blow when substitute Javier Pastore - a late replacement for Lavezzi - added a superb third in injury time to give his side a two-goal margin.
Chelsea opted to start without a recognised striker, leaving Fernando Torres and Demba Ba on the bench, while PSG boasted one of the most recognisable of them all in Ibrahimovic, who this week appeared to rule out a future move to the Premier League.
While Jose Mourinho's men will have been suitably prepared to deal with the Swedish frontman's capabilities, it was Lavezzi who struck the first blow four minutes in.
The Argentine superbly controlled a weak headed clearance from John Terry on his chest, before allowing the ball to bounce and firing a left-footed effort into the top corner of the net from the centre of the penalty area.
Lavezzi continued to pose a threat to the Chelsea goal, sending an attempt into the side netting after 25 minutes, but a clumsy challenge on Oscar by masked captain Thiago Silva – recovering from a fractured cheekbone – offered the Premier League outfit a way back into the clash just two minutes later.
Referee Milorad Mazic pointed to the spot and Hazard made no mistake in rolling the ball beyond Salvatore Sirigu, who leapt the wrong way.
Hazard – back in the country where he cut his teeth as a player with Lille – almost doubled his tally five minutes before the break, striking the right-hand post with a volley from a chipped Willian cross.
There were strong shouts for a penalty at the other before the players returned to the changing rooms, but the referee waved play on after Edinson Cavani fell to the ground under the challenge of Gary Cahill.
As in the first half, PSG started brightly once again after the interval, Lavezzi heading narrowly over from a Blaise Matuidi cross when unmarked in the box.
And they were back in front just after the hour, when Luiz inadvertently knocked the ball into his own net from a teasing Lavezzi free kick.
However, there were worrying scenes for the hosts in the 68th minute, when Ibrahimovic, who was quiet for much of the encounter, pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring strain.
Cavani's late curling effort whistled just wide of the right-hand upright, but Pastore forced his way into the penalty area in stoppage time to drive home from a tight angle and compound Chelsea’s misery.