Stubborn resistance and a Branislav Ivanovic header earned Chelsea a 1-1 draw in the Champions League last-16 first leg with Paris St Germain at Parc des Princes.
Jose Mourinho’s men are well placed to advance to the quarter-finals after Ivanovic netted a vital away goal, although Edinson Cavani equalised and PSG showed enough for Chelsea to be wary in the second leg on March 11.
Not sure quite how David Luiz got away with this… https://t.co/v0rtekTO0t
— James Maw (@JamesMawFFT) February 17, 2015
Chelsea advanced to the semi-finals at PSG’s expense last term on away goals after losing 3-1 in Paris and Demba Ba’s last-gasp strike in the return in London.
The Blues had won just once in six prior attempts on French soil, at PSG in Mourinho’s first European match as boss in September 2004.
Chelsea’s bus became stuck entering the stadium and Zlatan Ibrahimovic caused the visitors all kinds of difficulties once the match began.
Courtois made three saves from headers in the first half, the pick from Cavani, before Ivanovic’s header against the run of play.
Cavani equalised after losing Cahill to meet Blaise Matuidi’s cross and both the Uruguay striker and Ibrahimovic had chances to double PSG’s lead.
The Swede was denied by Courtois in stoppage time to leave Chelsea in control of the tie heading to Stamford Bridge.
There are three weeks and a day before the return, by which time Chelsea’s confidence may be boosted by silverware, with the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham on March 1.
The episode with the bus led to jokes Chelsea would “park” theirs and deploy defensive tactics.
The shock FA Cup exit to League One Bradford granted Chelsea a rare free weekend and five days’ preparation for PSG.
Xabi Alonso saw his 100th Champions League appearance ended prematurely, although his red card did not cost Bayern Munich as they secured a goalless draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The first leg of this last-16 tie was a tetchy affair and one which Pep Guardiola’s side managed to get nowhere near the level of performance managed in their 8-0 Bundesliga drubbing of Hamburg at the weekend.
Shakhtar looked rusty – no surprise given they have not played a competitive game since matchday six — and failed to capitalise on Alonso’s second-half sending off.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence with 25 minutes remaining, but it did little to change the match played out in sub-zero temperatures at the Arena Lviv.
They exited the competition at this stage to Borussia Dortmund two years ago and early on it looked like a similar fate would await, with Rafinha forcing Andriy Pyatov into a save inside the opening minute.
The Shakhtar goalkeeper could only watch on helplessly shortly after when Bastian Schweinsteiger met a lovely, clipped ball from Arjen Robben, although the strike flew just wide.
Robben was squeezed out after being the beneficiary of a free-kick routine, before the Dutchman playing in Thomas Muller to hit a cross-shot that Olexandr Kucher cleared from danger.
Shakhtar were struggling to get a grip of their visitors and tempers soon began to fray, with Darijo Srna fortunate not to be sent off for moving his head towards Jerome Boateng’s after Alonso was booked for a poor challenge.
The Spanish official was having a lot to deal with in what was becoming an increasingly tetchy match, with Douglas Costa perhaps fortunate just to receive a yellow card after catching Ribery with his elbow.
There was a break in play after a challenge between Luiz Adriano and Alonso – a collision both recovered from, albeit the latter was soon exiting the field.
The midfielder was adjudged to have brought down Alex Teixeira and received a second yellow card, reducing Munich to 10 men for the final 25 minutes.
It was one of 35 fouls on the night, with the sides sharing eight bookings and Alonso’s red in a forgettable first leg to a last-16 tie which resumes at the Allianz Arena on March 11.
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