Champions League: Blues survive PSG fightback to claim draw

Ross McLean
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Striker Edinson Cavani scored his sixth goal in seven Champions League matches this season

CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho claimed he fielded five injured players as his side survived a potent Paris Saint-Germain resurgence in their Champions League last-16 first leg tie at Parc des Princes last night.

Full-back Branislav Ivanovic struck with a potentially pivotal away goal and his first European strike since the 2013 Europa League final before Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani hit back to ensure honours ended even ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge on 11 March.

The clash was a repeat of last season’s quarter-final tussle which Chelsea won despite suffering a 3-1 reverse in the French capital, and Mourinho was relieved to escape on level terms this time around after PSG dominated the second period.

“Sometimes people speak about the players when they are injured and don’t play but there are injured players that play,” said Mourinho. “Injured players do not train to play and I had five players in this team that did not train.

“Five players that since the game against Everton did not train once. Yesterday, they had a warming down and also for the press to see they were on the pitch, but five players that did not train so I’m happy with the result.

“I don’t say very good because it depends on the second leg but I say a positive result. Our goalkeeper made two or three important saves in the game. But two legs is now one leg with everything to be decided at Stamford Bridge.”

PSG threatened twice in the 11th minute after a tepid start. Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois thwarted France midfielder Blaise Matuidi and enigmatic frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic following headers from successive left-wing crosses.

Courtois clawed away a near-post flick from Cavani following Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner before full-back Ivanovic continued his hot streak of crucial goals – a Capital One Cup semi-final winner against Liverpool and Premier League clincher at Aston Villa.

Despite the return of striker Diego Costa from a three-game ban, Chelsea’s opener was firmly influenced by the Blues’ backline as John Terry’s cross was flicked by Gary Cahill into the path of Ivanovic, who powered a header beyond PSG stopper Salvatore Sirigu.

PSG equalised nine minutes after the restart. An unmarked Cavani met a left-wing centre from the overlapping Matuidi and planted a downward header wide of Courtois for his sixth Champions League goal in seven matches this term.

Chelsea were indebted to Courtois for denying Ibrahimovic with an outstretched foot and then a combination of Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta for blocking the follow-up effort from Lavezzi shortly before the hour mark.

Courtois then tipped over a header from Ex-Blue David Luiz, saw Cavani drill narrowly past the upright after outwitting Nemanja Matic with neat footwork, and then repelled Ibrahimovic late on.