Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It Happened in Europe: PSG allows away goal, Benfica rescues late home win

Benfica 1-0 Zenit St. Petersburg
I wasn't able to watch this game at all, but the numbers made it look pretty bland. Benfica controlled much of the ball for the entire match, but didn't start to come alive with shots until the final 20 minutes or so. None were of any quality until the final one. That came from Jonas, who was able to head one in just after stoppage time hit. That rescued a first leg triumph for Benfica, but a journey across the continent to Russia in February is enough to freak out any Portuguese squad. To make it worse, Jonas was shown a second yellow for disrobing during his celebration, meaning he is out for the return leg. Benfica may have escaped with a win and clean sheet, but the real fight is still in front of them.

Paris-St. Germain 2-1 Chelsea
Chelsea have sounded the death knell for PSG in each of the last two Champions League campaigns, and the Parisians were not about to allow that to happen again. Early on, the home team controlled possession, but didn't really create any shots. The first real chance went to Chelsea, in fact. Diego Costa was gifted an open header, but Kevin Trapp was able to tip it onto the bar and out for a corner. In the 39th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck. A free kick from 20 or so yards away skirted under the wall and beyond Thibaut Courtois into the Chelsea goal. The Blues had a fairly quick response for a big away goal before halftime. John Obi Mikel, of all players, had a corner fall to his thighs for an easy boot in to tie the score at one heading into the break.

The second half was mostly a continuation of the first. PSG was on the front foot while Chelsea had to sit back and defend, The chances were few and far between, until Edinson Cavani tucked home the winner in the 78th minute.

Chelsea still has the away goal to sit on as they head home for the second leg. That more or less evens the score for the end of the tie, but if PSG are able to bag just one at Stamford Bridge, it should be enough to get over their Champions League demons and make way to the quarterfinals.

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