Chelsea beats PSG to reach Champions League semis
LONDON, England – Demba Ba scored in the 87th minute to give Chelsea a last-gasp 2-0 win at home against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, April 8, that swept them into the Champions League semi-finals.
Trailing 3-1 from last week's quarter-final first leg in Paris, Chelsea trimmed PSG's aggregate advantage through a 32nd-minute goal by Andre Schuerrle, but the French champions remained on course for the last 4.
The hosts hit the bar through Schuerrle and Oscar early in the second half, but with time running out, substitute Ba bundled home from close range to take Chelsea into the semi-finals for the seventh time in 11 years.
"I think we did enough at the beginning of the second half to score before we did," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told ITV.
"It was very much deserved that the team that tried to defend was punished. The team that played with their heart deserved to go through."
Chelsea progressed on the away goals rule after a 3-3 aggregate draw, two years after pulling off a similar feat by coming back from a 3-1 loss to beat Napoli 4-1 in the last 16 en route to success in the 2012 competition.
Ba's goal preserved Mourinho's 100 percent record in European quarter-finals and his glee was evident as he sprinted down the touchline in a manner reminiscent of his celebration when Porto eliminated Manchester United in 2004.
PSG had been on the verge of the semi-finals for the first time since 1995 and the only consolation for Laurent Blanc's heartbroken side was that they remain on the brink of a successful Ligue 1 title defense.
"Chelsea were very good in the second half and we lacked a bit of fluidity," admitted Blanc.
"We could have scored a goal on the counter-attack that would have sent us through. Chelsea believed until the very end and they were rewarded. Good luck to them."
Chelsea's need for goals prompted Mourinho to hand a start to Samuel Eto'o, who had missed the previous 3 games with a hamstring problem, but the hosts' early momentum was interrupted by an injury to Eden Hazard that forced him off in the 18th minute.
Schuerrle makes breakthrough
Chelsea began to apply pressure, however, and after PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu produced a brilliant flying save to parry a deflected Frank Lampard free-kick, they broke through.
David Luiz used his back to flick on Ivanovic's long throw-in from the right and Schuerrle – who had replaced Hazard – stole in to steer a volley past Sirigu from 10 yards.
With Stamford Bridge rocking, the hosts flooded forward. Schuerrle saw a penalty appeal waved away after flopping over a challenge from Marco Verratti, while Gary Cahill miscued a volley right in front of goal.
Chelsea resumed their onslaught after the interval and hit the bar twice in the space of two minutes, first through Schuerrle, from Willian's cut-back, and then via an arcing free-kick from Oscar.
Blanc sought to shore things up by sending on Yohan Cabaye for Verratti and briefly PSG rallied, with Petr Cech touching a free-kick from Ezequiel Lavezzi around the post and Cavani heading wide from a corner.
Mourinho responded by introducing Ba in place of Lampard and the Senegalese striker soon made his presence felt, finding Schuerrle with a flick-on, only for Sirigu to field the German's shot.
With Chelsea pressing forward, they left themselves open to the counter-attack and PSG spurned a host of chances to make the game safe.
Cavani twice shot over from promising positions, while Maxwell skidded a low shot wide and Cech had to save a drive from Lucas Moura.
Those misses would have proved immaterial, but with 3 minutes to play, Cesar Azpilicueta drove a shot across the box and Ba outmuscled Maxwell to touch home and send Mourinho scampering down the pitch in delight.
Cech preserved his side's place in the last 4 with an injury-time save from Marquinhos and not even a booking for Ivanovic that rules him out of the semi-final first leg could dampen the mood at a jubilant Stamford Bridge. – Rappler.com