Zlatan, Cavani give Chelsea the blues
Struggling striker Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score the winner as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) beat Chelsea 2-1 in a pulsating first leg in the last 16 of the Champions League yesterday.
Cavani, who has lost his place in the side in recent weeks, latched on to a superb pass over Chelsea's stretched defence from winger Angel Di Maria and slotted through the legs of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from a narrow angle in the 78th minute.
"I'm happy for Eddy. I've said it often because people doubt his scoring abilities, but he's always shown he can score goals," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "He was going through a very difficult period and I hope that scoring this goal gives him his confidence back."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead with a powerful free kick in the 39th minute, only for Chelsea to level on the stroke of half time with a rare goal from midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Courtois made a string of saves to keep Chelsea in contention heading into the second leg, and Spanish winger Pedro almost spoiled the home celebrations in injury time with a rasping drive into the side netting.
"This is a very strong PSG, so I think the performance of our players was very good," Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink said. "But we could have been more lethal in the four or five counters that we made."
PSG are unbeaten in domestic competition since March and in all competitions since a 1-0 reverse away to Real Madrid in the group stage on November 3 - a run of 23 games.
Still, Blanc's side could regret a host of missed chances and Chelsea will fancy their chances at Stamford Bridge in three weeks' time.
"It's up to us to go and score at Stamford Bridge. We will get chances, and we must take them," Blanc said.
In the night's other match, Benfica beat Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 in Lisbon thanks to an injury-time goal from Brazilian striker Jonas.
Chelsea knocked out PSG in the quarter-finals two years ago and PSG won when they met at the same stage last season with both ties settled on away goals.