Diego Costa impactful for Chelsea, Eden Hazard still missing in PSG loss
Chelsea bowed out of the Champions League after losing 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in a tight encounter at Stamford Bridge. It was the second year in a row Laurent Blanc's team had eliminated the Blues from European competition, this time by a final aggregate score of 4-2.
Chelsea posed the first threat after a poor clearance was intercepted by Willian just outside the penalty box. The Brazilian gave the ball to Diego Costa, who twisted and fired a shot toward goal only to see it palmed away at full stretch. After that, the visitors took control for the next 15 minutes, keeping the ball with some lovely, crisp passing and forcing Chelsea to chase shadows.
PSG's first goal on Wednesday night finally arrived when Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked out Adrien Rabiot at the far post. After a bit of soul searching, the home side picked themselves up and equalised with the best move of the half, when Pedro passed to Willian, who fed Costa. The striker once again turned his defender around before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
With the game finely balanced, the Blues tried to take the initiative at the start of the second half, with Costa having his effort blocked and Cesar Azpilicueta unable to make the most of the rebound. The game started to turn after Costa had to be substituted on the hour mark. Although Willian drew an excellent save from the goalkeeper, who also kept out Eden Hazard's follow-up shot, Chelsea's main threat was blunted. Once Ibrahimovic netted a second for the French champions, the game was effectively over.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- Dealt with everything in his zone easily enough and had no chance with either goal.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 -- Struggled with Angel Di Maria in the first half but grew in stature.
DF Branislav Ivanovic, 7 -- Another solid display at centre-back, in which he largely dealt with Ibrahimovic's physicality. Moved up front as Chelsea tried to claw back the deficit in the second half.
DF Gary Cahill, 6 -- Will be disappointed with his decision-making for the first goal, when he failed to track Ibrahimovic's run. Was fairly assured from then on.
DF Kenedy, 7 -- A surprise selection at left-back, the youngster did not put a foot wrong despite his inexperience at the position and with Champions League football. Provided pace on the counter but was used too infrequently.
MF John Obi Mikel, 8 -- Spent some of the first half bypassed by PSG's one-touch passing, but soon imposed himself by pressing farther up the pitch to great effect. Could have done with more help alongside him in that regard.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 6 -- Didn't see much of the ball and did little with it when he did. Looked tired after being left trailing in the wake of a gifted opposition midfield.
MF Willian, 7 -- Looked the most likely to carve holes in the PSG defence and was pivotal for Costa's equaliser. Almost gave his side the lead but saw his low shot pushed away.
FW Pedro, 7 -- Kept on running for the whole 90 minutes and was never shy about having a shot on goal. Unfortunately, he was unable to have the decisive impact his endeavours warranted.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- A meek performance from the wide forward who was more concerned with offloading the ball than making anything happen. Worryingly started being more effective once the result was beyond doubt.
FW Diego Costa, 8 -- An excellent centre-forward display that had the PSG defence constantly concerned. Took his goal beautifully and it was no coincidence that the game was up once he went off.
FW Bertrand Traore, 6 -- Saw little of the ball, largely because PSG kept it so well.
MF Oscar, NR -- Made up the numbers as everyone waited for the final whistle to blow.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.