PSG's profligate finishing means they hold a narrow advantage vs. Chelsea
Paris Saint-Germain will take a slender one-goal advantage to Stamford Bridge in early March after a 2-1 first leg win over Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 at Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
Laurent Blanc's men created plenty of chances, but they struggled to find a way past an inspired Thibaut Courtois in the visitors' goal. It took a superb finish from substitute Edinson Cavani to beat the Belgium international for a second time, with Angel Di Maria brilliantly serving up El Matador's strike.
The first time Courtois was beaten, six minutes before half-time, came through a Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick that was deflected in by John Obi Mikel. However, the Nigeria international slammed home from a corner right before the break to atone for conceding the set piece, getting booked and diverting it in.
PSG created plenty of good chances but looked surprisingly vulnerable at the back and Chelsea had opportunities of their own. However, when the away side did open the French champions up, they found home goalkeeper Kevin Trapp in inspired form.
Les Parisiens were good value for their 2-1 win on the night, but the away goal conceded could potentially hurt them, unless they score at Stamford Bridge in the return leg.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Kevin Trapp, 8 -- After his costly error away at Real Madrid in the group stage, the German was expected to put in a much better performance and he delivered. The 25-year-old made some excellent saves -- particularly a reflex stop from a Diego Costa header in the first half -- but was given no chance on Mikel's goal.
DF Marquinhos, 7 -- Played in his secondary role of right-back after Serge Aurier talked his way out of a certain place in the starting XI, the Brazil international put in a solid display. Although not as effective going forward as the Ivorian or Gregory van der Wiel, Marquinhos did well and did not look like a central defender being played out of position.
DF Thiago Silva, 8 -- This was an excellent individual showing from the Brazilian, who did his best to marshal his compatriots at the back. The 31-year-old produced several pieces of top quality defending -- notably one to nullify Costa in the first half -- but the PSG captain will be disappointed that his team conceded from a corner.
DF David Luiz, 6 -- The former Chelsea man enjoyed a largely solid performance against his old club, but the Brazil international should have been able to cut out the cross that supplied Costa for his header that was well saved by Trapp. Otherwise, the 28-year-old picked up a second-half booking.
DF Maxwell, 5 -- As has been the case in the Champions League a few times this season, the veteran Brazilian looked his age. The 34-year-old struggled to get up and down the left as easily as he does in PSG's domestic games and was lacking physically at times.
MF Thiago Motta, 6 -- With Marco Verratti back alongside him after a lengthy spell out through injury, the 33-year-old was far more recognisable than the lost figure he cut when his partner in crime was absent.
MF Marco Verratti, 7 -- Surprisingly restored to the starting XI after recently returning from injury, the Italy international made a noticeable difference. Although he struggled at times off the ball, on it he was influential and he also won a few useful set pieces before Adrien Rabiot replaced him with nine minutes left.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- The France international worked hard in midfield all night and put in a typical all-action performance. He was replaced by Javier Pastore late on as PSG tried to score a third to give themselves a greater advantage for the second leg.
FW Lucas Moura, 7 -- The Brazilian's pace unsettled Chelsea's defence and also won the Ligue 1 leaders some useful free kicks. However, his lack of clinical finishing let him down once again and prevented him from playing a decisive role in the encounter. He also picked up a yellow card.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 7 -- The Swede scored PSG's opener from a free kick -- aided by a significant Mikel deflection -- and played a role in Cavani's winner. However, he should have scored another with a header from a deep Marquinhos cross in the first half and forced a good save out of Courtois with a second half snap shot, before passing to Di Maria to help create Cavani's winning strike. Ibrahimovic was also booked.
FW Angel Di Maria, 7 -- Quiet in the first half, the Argentina international livened up in the second and became more influential. El Fideo produced some inviting crosses and it was his superb pass that played Cavani in for his well-taken winner. Di Maria's corner kicks regularly let him down though.
FW Edinson Cavani, NR -- Sent on in place of Lucas with 16 minutes left, the Uruguay international wasted little time in leaving his mark. Four minutes after his introduction, Cavani produced a clinical finish through Courtois' legs. Was the No. 9's celebration in front of his team's bench to prove a point to his manager Laurent Blanc?
MF Adrien Rabiot, NR -- Brought on for the tiring Verratti with nine minutes left, the France U21 international did not have enough time to make an impact.
MF Javier Pastore, NR -- Like Rabiot, the Argentina international was not given enough time to influence proceedings. However, El Flaco did produce some neat touches and passes in his short cameo.
Jonathan Johnson is based in Paris and the voice of PSG TV. He also writes for French Football Weekly. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.