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Published: 21:49 | 16/2/16

Cavani fires PSG to win over Chelsea

Tie finely poised ahead of second leg

It's advantage PSG after Edinson Cavani's late goal secured a 2-1 victory as the French outfit overcame a spirited Chelsea side in their Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash at Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening.

Cavani produced a superb finish twelve minutes from the end to restore PSG's lead after John Obi Mikel first-half injury time strike had cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's deflected opener.

The result condemned interim Blues boss Guus Hiddink to his first defeat since taking over in mid-December, but he will pleased that his charges are still in the tie after watching them defend for long periods in the second half.

Following a disastrous opening half to the campaign, Chelsea will probably see winning the Champions League this time out as their most likely route back into the competition next season, whereas PSG are 24 points clear at the top of the French League and are almost certain to qualify by right.

The clubs were meeting for the third time in three years in the Champions League and, with one victory apiece, there was plenty at stake for both sides.

PSG dominated the early exchanges with midfielder Marco Varratti drawing a decent save from Thibaut Courtois with a rasping shot early on before Ibrahimovic sent a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area narrowly wide.

But Chelsea slowly settled into the game and were almost ahead on 22 minutes when Diego Costa met Baba Rahman's floated cross after losing former Blues defender David Luiz at the far post, But PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp somehow managed to get a hand to the ball to divert it onto the crossbar and away for a corner.

The visitors had another good chance shortly afterwards as Pedro's low cross found Cesar Azpilicueta unmarked 15 yards out, but the defender missed his kick and the ball was cleared.

Ibrahimovic then headed over from a good position as PSG threatened again just after the half hour mark.

But the Swedish international striker didn't have to wait too much longer to make his mark.

Six minutes before the break Lucas Moura was fouled on the edge of the D by Mikel and the former Barcelona man drilled the resulting free-kick beyond the wrong-footed Courtois with the aid of a deflection off the unlucky Mikel.

PSG might have thought they had done enough to have the advantage at the break, but Chelsea drew level in first half stoppage time.

Costa flicked on Willian's corner at the near post and the ball fell to the unmarked Mikel six yards out. The Nigerian made amends for his part in giving PSG the lead by drilling the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

Trapp had to save from Costa from point blank range immediately after the restart after a sublime Willian pass put the Spaniard through on goal.

At the other end, Courtois was forced to tip over Angel Di Maria's 30-yard drive before denying Ibrahimovic from a tight angle.

Courtois was called into action again on the hour mark to deny Lucas Moura who had combined well with Ibrahimovic.

The home side were beginning to take control and Branislav Ivanovic was forced to perform heroics to block Blaise Matuidi's goal-bound effort six yards out.

Courtois then acrobatically saved Di Maria's free kick as PSG continued to press.

It looked to be only a matter of time before the home side would restore their advantage and the goal duly came twelve minutes from the end when substitute Cavani beat the offside trap to collect Ibrahimovic's deft flick over the top and finish superbly through the legs of Courtois.

Laurent Blanc's side sensed they could take a decisive step towards the quarter-finals and continued to pour forward in search of a third goal.

Ibrahimovic came close as the game moved into stoppage time, but Courtois was well placed to deny him a second goal as the French side were made to settle for the slightest of advantages ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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