Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti lead Paris Saint-Germain to priceless UCL victory
Stamford Bridge, LONDON -- Paris Saint-Germain are into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League after a heroic performance with 10-men for more than 85 minutes saw them eventually edge Chelsea 3-3 on away goals after a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
It looked as if things were going to go a similar way to last season's quarterfinal when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was shown a straight red card after 32 minutes, with the score poised at 0-0. Laurent Blanc's men showed tremendous strength to hold out until nine minutes from the end, but Gary Cahill gave the hosts the lead.
Les Parisiens refused to give up though and former Chelsea man David Luiz deservedly equalised five minutes later. That goal forced extra time and Eden Hazard restored the advantage for Jose Mourinho's men, before PSG captain Thiago Silva headed in a crucial second away goal to level things up on the night and on aggregate.
For the second successive season, it finished 3-3 over two legs. However, this time it was the defending French champions who prevailed to secure arguably the biggest result of the Qatari era so far. The PSG team was full of heroic performances, performing to such a level that -- at times -- it seemed as if it was 11 vs. 11 right up until the end of the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Salvatore Sirigu, 6 -- The Italian was spectator in the first half, even after PSG had been reduced to 10 men. But he became more and more involved as the game wore on and the 28-year-old made some key saves in the second half and then in extra time. Sirigu's dive for Hazard's penalty in the first half of extra time was perhaps a little too early, but otherwise the Azzurri star performed well.
DF Marquinhos, 7 -- Blanc's decision to play Marquinhos at right-back ahead of Gregory van der Wiel turned out to be one of the most important made by Le President for this match. Although the Brazilian was unable to shackle Hazard, he still put in a strong performance and did well to help out in attack at times. It was a physical game and the 20-year-old suffered more than most, but rose to the challenge in impressive fashion.
DF Thiago Silva, 8 -- Once again, as has been the case since the start of 2015, Thiago Silva was in formidable form at the heart of the PSG defence. The Brazilian was strong, authoritative and led his team well, particularly after the dismissal of Ibrahimovic. At fault for Chelsea's dubiously awarded penalty, Silva atoned for that error in style with a superb header to beat the impressive Thibaut Courtois.
DF David Luiz, 7 -- Combative, aggressive and every bit as motivated as he was for the first leg of this tie, David Luiz put in another good performance. Lucky that his elbow on Costa was not seen in the first half, the Brazilian found himself on the receiving end of some rough treatment at times as well. However, it was his stunning header that forced extra time for PSG.
DF Maxwell, 6 -- When PSG need him, Maxwell can always be counted on to deliver a good, solid performance and this was no different. The Brazilian pushed forward well, while remaining defensively responsible and won Blanc's men a number of corners throughout the game.
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- Highlights (U.S. only): Chelsea 2-2 PSG
MF Thiago Motta, 6 -- Although perhaps not on the same impressive level as his display in the 3-2 win over Barcelona at Parc des Princes earlier this season, Blanc was vindicated for decision to risk Motta from the start in this game. The Italian was up for the occasion -- getting booked for over-zealously protesting Ibrahimovic's red card -- and rarely exposed his physical limitations. It was the 32-year-old's corner that provided Silva with the ultimately deciding goal.
MF Marco Verratti, 8 -- Sensational. Once again, with the exception of Silva, the Italian was PSG's best player on the pitch. Verratti was at his daring best, producing some moments of brilliance on the ball and snapping into key challenges with tenacity. Once PSG went down to 10 men, the 22-year-old stepped up and it was surprising to see him substituted towards the end after such an impressive display. His role in the build-up to Edinson Cavani's chance early in the second half was nothing short of genius.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- Like Verratti, it was surprising to see Matuidi withdrawn towards the end of the 90 minutes. PSG missed his hard-working approach and intelligent runs in the middle of the pitch during extra-time, but ultimately it did not matter.
FW Javier Pastore, 7 -- A weak point in first 15 minutes, Pastore grew into game and eventually became one of PSG's main protagonists. The Argentinian aided the attack with some excellent passing, notably to play in Cavani for his second half chance. However, El Flaco also got involved defensively when he could and can feel proud of the fact that he exceled during such a physical encounter.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 3 -- Although his red card was extremely harsh, Ibrahimovic will once again make the headlines in a Champions League game for the wrong reasons. A spectral presence in the team until his dismissal, the Swede's dominant influence over this team is slipping away along with his chance to truly impress in Europe.
FW Edinson Cavani, 6 -- Not in the game enough in the first half, Cavani was given one clear chance in the second and hit the post after taking the ball around Courtois. The Uruguayan must do better. Despite that setback though, El Matador worked hard and contributed towards this stunning team display.
FW Ezequiel Lavezzi, NR -- Given just seven minutes to have an impact on the game as a late substitute, Lavezzi's delivered the corner that provided Luiz's goal.
MF Adrien Rabiot, NR -- Introduced alongside Lavezzi with just minutes to go, the teenage Frenchman was shaky at first but settled down after the first equaliser. In the second half of extra-time, the 19-year-old grew into the game and had a positive impact off the bench.
DF Gregory van der Wiel, NR -- Brought on with two minutes to go -- despite playing the entire first leg -- Van der Wiel barely had time to touch the ball before the final whistle.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.