Tuesday, 8 April 2014

UCL Quarter-Final Action, Chelsea vs PSG - LIVE Commentary:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, which is a LIVE Commentary of the UEFA Champions League 2nd Leg Quarter-Final being played at Stamford Bridge tonight between French champions PSG and 2012 Champions League winners Chelsea.

There will also be LIVE updates from the match between Dortmund and Real in the other quarter-final match of the night (0-3 Real lead on aggregate) as well as goal updates if there are any!

Chelsea will have to perform well if they are to overturn a 3-1 lead and progress to the semis of the UCL
This is sure to be an intriguing game which may or may not live up to its expectation after an end-to-end first leg in the Parc des Princes last Wednesday, as PSG currently hold a 3-1 advantage lead going into the match. 

Goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi, an own goal from David Luiz and a late solo effort from Javier Pastore have given PSG an advantage going into the second-leg tie at Stamford Bridge tonight, but Chelsea will feel that they can still progress as long as they get the job done. 

A crucial away goal was scored last week at the Parc des Princes by Hazard from the penalty spot, which may end up benefiting The Blues greatly. IF Chelsea win the game 2-0, they will progress (away goal rule applies)

Here are the team line-ups going into the match:

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Lampard, Willian, Oscar, Hazard and Eto'o. 

Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Kalas, Mikel, Schurrle, Ba and Torres.

A strong Chelsea side despite having no Ramires and Matic in the midfield, Eto'o will be desperate to get on the scoresheet while Hazard will look to run on the flanks and get in behind the PSG defence, to frustrate them. 

PSG: Sirigu, Jallet, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell, Verratti, Motta, Matuidi, Lucas, Cavani and Lavezzi. 

Subs: Douchez, Marquinhos, Digne, Van der Wiel, Cabaye, Menez and Pastore. 

An impressive PSG side even without Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic tonight, with Cavani deputising in the centre of attack.

Pastore and Menez are among the substitutes for PSG, with former Newcastle creative midfielder Yohan Cabaye also on the bench in an overall strong line-up. 

19:45 - The teams are ready for the game, and are awaiting confirmation to kick-off from the referee.

0 - The referee blows his whistle, and the game has begun at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have it all to do tonight, but nothing is impossible and if they start the match off well then there is no reason why they cannot progress to the semi-finals.

PSG know that if they box Chelsea in and manage to score, you'd feel that Chelsea will struggle even worse to comeback. And PSG are no pushovers, either. 

1 - Some early nerves from Azpilicueta as he loses ball possession to Verratti, who is closed down well and Chelsea restart play from the back, passing the ball as precisely as they can despite PSG pressure. 

3: Referee blows his whistle for a foul after Chelsea defender Cahill clips PSG winger Lavezzi's ankle in a 50-50 challenge, the defender is not happy with the decision but the replays show that there was no contact on the ball. 

4: An early chance for Chelsea as an inswinging free-kick from 25 yards out at an awkward angle is given, after former Chelsea defender Alex barges Hazard down to the turf. 
Clumsy set-piece to give away. 

5: The set-piece comes of nothing, luckily enough for Alex. Good defensive work by PSG to clear the danger as they spread out. 

7: Chelsea feel hard done by again after a sloppy pass from Lampard is capitalized on by Lucas who starts to sprint out of the blocks with the ball, but Lampard chops him down despite getting a slight touch on the top of the ball, the referee pulls the play back for a free-kick. 

Replays show it was the correct decision, Mourinho feels aggrieved. 

8: Chelsea have a corner after Oscar does well to skip past Jallet on the flank before dinking the ball to Eto'o, who shapes to shoot but is denied well by a defensive block from Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva. 

9: A free header goes unpunished as the ball trickles out for a PSG goal-kick and Chelsea players have to drop back. 

10: 10 minutes played in the Dortmund vs Real match, nothing really to report though.
Bale and Modric looking dangerous on the counter attack for Real, on a heavily wet pitch. More updates to come later on. 

12: PSG get away with one after an attempted back pass to Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu ends up with Eto'o chasing him down for the ball, barging him off the ball. Foul given. 

15: Good passing build-up play from PSG as they try to get in-behind the Chelsea defence. 

16: Chelsea's Belgian winger Eden Hazard looks to be struggling with a knock of some sort, and he cannot continue..

17: Mourinho about to make a substitution, with Schurrle warming up.
Chelsea SUB:
Andre Schurrle ON
Eden Hazard (injury) OFF

18: A big blow for Chelsea's hopes of progressing through to the next round, Hazard brings magic and creativity ability to the side while Schurrle has not really been given a chance to express himself in big games so far for The Blues since his £17million move from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the summer. 
How much of an impact will it have on Chelsea? Time will tell. 

23: A cynical foul from Willian as he slide tackles across to stop Lucas from going on a bursting run into the box, the referee blows his whistle for a free-kick from 25 yards out with Willian being the first player to get a yellow card tonight. 

24: Lucas is walking off the pitch to receive treatment after the hefty challenge, and the match restarts with Cavani having his free-kick blocked by the Chelsea wall. 

It's deserved, and Dortmund have just made the tie interesting as German winger Marco Reus breaks the deadlock in the 24th minute to give the hosts hope of a great comeback!

He took advantage of a sloppy headed clearance away from Pepe and he slotted the ball past Casillas to open the scoring. Di Maria had a penalty saved by Weidenfeller earlier on, a tense game ahead?

Quick and effective: Reus broke the deadlock after 25 minutes for the hosts
Talisman: Reus celebrates his first goal of the night to give Dortmund hope of a comeback
Wet surface: Di Maria lost his footing and had his early penalty saved by Weidenfeller

Under pressure: Weidenfeller did well to deny Di Maria's penalty, even though he mis-kicked the ball
1-0 to Dortmund. (3-1 to Real now on aggregate)

25: Verratti is perhaps harshly given a yellow card after a trip on Oscar outside the box, Chelsea have a potential goal-scoring opportunity now.

26: GOOD SAVE! Sirigu has to stretch to deny Lampard's swerving free-kick from hitting the back of the net from another awkward angle, the strike was swerving towards goal and he reacted quickly enough to see where the ball was going and take action! Still 0-0.  

29: Oscar and David Luiz both have long-range efforts comfortably saved by Sirigu as Chelsea look to break the deadlock in-front of the home crowd. 

31: GOAL! Chelsea have broken the deadlock, great timing! After Hazard's injury departure, Schurrle was expected to step up and perform well to help his team to overturn the deficit, and he's only gone and done it! 

Against the odds: Brought on to replace Hazard, Schurrle scores the opener for Chelsea
A flick on from a Chelsea throw-in falls to Schurrle who has no problem slotting the ball into the bottom corner of the net past Sirigu to make it 1-0! Can they do it? 

33: Half-hearted penalty appeal denied by Chelsea, after Schurrle darts inside the box but loses his footing next-to Verratti, slides onto the floor expecting contact from the young Italian midfielder and the referee waves play on. 
Replays show that there was barely any contact, good decision by the referee. Spot on. 

36: He will NOT want to see that again! An inviting free-kick from Lampard is whipped into the box and after a rebound, the ball falls to Cahill who slices the ball well wide of the goal, over the bar. 
Chelsea dominant now, and you can tell that PSG's rhythm has been disrupted after the opener.

37: Great last-ditch tackle by Brazilian defender Thiago Silva who does well to deny the ongoing Eto'o whose running at full speed towards the ball and ends up looking worse for wear after the challenge. 
Looks bad on the replay, but the stretcher is not needed and he gingerly limps off the pitch to receive treatment. 

Comeback kings? It's not over yet but you feel that this could be a historic night for Dortmund if they keep this up!

2-0 to the hosts, with Reus completing his break after Lewandowski's shot hits the post and the German slams the rebound into the net past Casillas. Game on!

Rebound: Reus completes his brace to give Dortmund a 2-0 lead, trailing 3-2 on aggregate
Stunner: Reus celebrates his second goal of the night to give Real a headache

Back in it? Dortmund struggled in the first leg, but they've played much better tonight!
39: Cavani is given a yellow card for standing in-front of Luiz as he tries to take a quick free-kick, although he feels annoyed as he believes Luiz kicked the ball at him deliberately to get him booked. 
He will now miss PSG's next European game, whether it be in the semi-finals or otherwise. Harsh.

40: Lampard "takes one for the team" after he cynically chops Lavezzi to stop him from counter attacking with the ball at his feet, the referee blows his whistle and gives Lampard a yellow card. He knew what he was doing, but now he has to be careful. 

42: Schurrle tries to counter attack with pace, but he is closed down effectively by three PSG players who track back to pressurise and defend. 

44: Good punch by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech who clears the danger after an inswinging ball from a PSG free-kick.
He has had barely anything to do in the first-half and PSG manager Laurent Blanc will be hoping his side will resolve that in the second 45. Looks as if it will stay 1-0 to Chelsea until half-time at least. 

45: The fourth official puts his electronic board up, signalling for just one minute of stoppage time at the end of an entertaining first-half. 

45+1: The referee blows his whistle to end the first-half at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea the happier of the two sides going into the break. 
However, they know that the match is not finished yet and they still need to score (and not concede) in order to qualify, which is not going to be easy. 

PSG need to stop conceding needless fouls because Chelsea are effective at set-pieces and could be 3-0 up at half-time if Sirigu had not done well to deny Lampard's deflected free-kick strike and Cahill had not sliced his strike wide.

PSG also need to pass the ball around more and make runs into space (finding the player in space with a pass) like they did in the first leg in France last week, otherwise they will be pressured off the ball and Chelsea will continue to counter attack, which could prove costly for their Champions League hopes. 

Schurrle's strike just proves that the tie is not over, but who will respond best after the break? 

Half-time scores: 
Chelsea 1 PSG 0 (Aggregate score 2-3)
Borussia Dortmund 2 Real Madrid 0 (Aggregate score 2-3)

Comebacks perhaps? 

20:47 - The referee blows his whistle to begin the second-half of action at Stamford Bridge, after the PSG players form a huddle and try to motivate themselves to regain control in the tie. 
Big 45 minutes ahead. 

45: No substitutes for either side as the game gets underway again. 

51: CLOSE! Schurrle almost makes it 2-0 to The Blues after having a stinging effort strike the top of the crossbar after Willian's cut-back near the touchline. 

52: The crossbar saves PSG from conceding again as Chelsea have a free-kick 20 yards out after Lucas clatters into a Chelsea player clumsily near the box. Good chance this for The Blues.

Oscar and David Luiz stand over the set-piece, who will take it? Oscar goes for the strike.... OFF THE BAR AGAIN! 
Oscar with a curled strike over the PSG wall, over Sirigu who can only dive helplessly but hits the crossbar. Chelsea are pushing for another goal and the momentum has well and truly shifted! 

55: PSG SUB:
Marco Verratti OFF

Yohan Cabaye ON

Perhaps a smart move by Blanc, who replaces young Verratti who is already on a yellow card with former Newcastle midfielder Cabaye who was signed for £20million pounds in January.
Helps to solidify the team, relieve some tension and pressure on Matuidi and Motta in the hub of midfield.

56: Ivanovic concedes a free-kick just outside the box after a mis-timed lunge at Matuidi on the left flank and is consequently given a yellow card by the referee. He'll miss Chelsea's next European match. 

60: Cameras show that Chelsea strikers Demba Ba and Fernando Torres are both warming-up on the touchline, preparing to be potential replacements as Mourinho ponders another change. 

Meanwhile, PSG enjoy a short spell of pressure on Chelsea, with a corner being headed over Cech's goal by Cavani. They need to continue doing this, and eventually get a goal if they want to be more comfortable than they currently are.

IF Chelsea score and the game finishes 2-0, Chelsea WILL go through. This is why PSG need to test Cech and push for an equaliser relatively quickly, because Chelsea can strike at any time. 

64: Senegalese striker Demba Ba is preparing to come on for Chelsea as the hosts have a corner cleared away by Cavani at the near post. 

66: Chelsea SUB:
Frank Lampard OFF
Demba Ba ON

An attacking-minded change by Mourinho, and who can blame him? His side just need one more goal and Ba could be the man to provide it for him.

Lampard did well in midfield and controlled the tempo of the game, getting involved in tackles and pushing forward, but he is already on a yellow card and the last thing Mourinho needs is to go down to ten-men, no matter how good Lampard's temperament is. 

67: A good Chelsea counter attack after Ba does well to stretch for a ball, finding Schurrle who has an ambitious effort on-goal towards Sirigu who was off his line and not expecting a shot.

A good acrobatic save by the Italian denies Schurrle from scoring again, PSG need to be quicker off the ball and retain ball possession because they are not passing the ball well enough to keep it. 

Here's a quote for PSG:
"Keep the ball. If you keep the ball, your opponent cannot score." - that's not me encouraging them to "park the bus" because it will invite more pressure, but PASS and MOVE. 

70: Both Chelsea and Dortmund are looking for comebacks tonight, and both sides are relatively close to sealing it!
In the match between Dortmund and Real, Mkhitaryan has just hit the post after a great through ball by Reus and Dortmund should arguably be ahead now.
2-0 still in Germany, 1-0 in London. 

72: PSG are preparing a substitution to bring on fresh legs:
Ezequiel Lavezzi OFF
Javier Pastore ON 

Lavezzi has not had the same desired effect as he had last week, but he has been important for PSG going forward. Pastore scored a wonder goal against Chelsea late on last Wednesday, and Blanc will be hoping that he could help the team to score again tonight. Just under 20 minutes plus stoppages to play, tense finale ahead.. 

73: Good defensive work from Cavani to intercept a pass from Willian, before being dispossessed by Luiz as he passes the ball back to Terry to restart the passing move. 

75: PSG go on the counter attack with Pastore picking up the ball near the centre circle, driving forward near the box and crossing the ball towards Cavani who is denied by a surging run from Azpilicueta, the ball falls to Brazilian full-back Maxwell who has an attempted swing at the ball, but it does not trouble Cech and skids past the post. 

77: Great ball by Cabaye from the centre-circle across into the box, which falls to Cavani who controls the ball perfectly but has a strike towards goal dip over Cech and go over the bar! 

One of the most clear-cut opportunities of the night for PSG, not taken by Cavani who probably should have done better with the shot but could not adjust his footing in time. Unlucky. 

Just before that, Ba had a penalty appeal denied after he ran into the box, pushed the ball past Thiago Silva but ran straight into him. Probably the right decision again, Ba went down too easily and knew he was not getting the ball in the end.  

Great ball by Cabaye in the build-up, superb delivery. 

80: Mourinho uses his last substitution of the night, with just over 10 minutes plus stoppages to play:
Oscar OFF
Fernando Torres ON

Torres looks hungry to score, you can tell that he is disgruntled not to have started the game and wants to prove himself. Oscar showed individual flashes of brilliance but was closed down well whenever he had the ball at his feet. 
Unlucky not to score with the free-kick, which was well-struck and beat everyone apart from the woodwork. 

83: The Chelsea supporters are willing their team on as they look to score again, while Real Madrid go close to ending Dortmund's hopes of a shock comeback with Benzema being denied from close range with a good save from Weidenfeller. 

Scores are still the same as they were at half-time in both matches though. 

84: PSG SUB:
Lucas Moura OFF

Marquinhos ON

A defensive-minded change for Blanc as he replaces Brazilian winger Lucas with young talented centre-back Marquinhos to try and keep the PSG back-line tight with a few minutes plus stoppages to play. 

86: GOAL! What did I say? Nothing is impossible! Demba Ba proves his doubters wrong to make it 2-0 to Chelsea after getting a light flick off the ball as The Blues flood over-the-top deliveries into the PSG half and it finally works, dramatically as the ball beats all of the PSG players and falls to the substitute who taps the ball past a helpless Sirigu. 

Full stretch: Ba scored late on (86') with a dink over Sirigu to sink PSG's hopes of qualifying.
Twist: Ba celebrates his late winner to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead with minutes to play!
Drama: Mourinho then ran from the dugout to the corner flag where Chelsea players were celebrating..
... to give them late instructions on how to seal the dramatic victory!
88: The Chelsea supporters go wild as they try to comprehend the fact that they may be progressing to the semi-finals of this season's Champions League. 

90: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time, much to the frustration and anxiety of Chelsea supporters who are begging for the final whistle as PSG push for a late winner.

90+2: PSG have a corner, with Sirigu pushing himself up the field to get involved in their last-gasp attempt to get into the Last 4. 

90+3: Good save from Cech denies young defender Marquinhos from scoring with a near-post strike towards goal.

90+4: The referee blows his whistle to end the match at Stamford Bridge, to roars from Chelsea supporters and relief from the Chelsea players who have battled their way into the Last 4 with a solid performance without going into top gear. 

PSG were eventually punished after a flawed game-plan (invite pressure, defend well and score on the counter attack seeming as they had a comfortable aggregate lead) was exploited by Mourinho's men, who kept up the pressure in a heavily-tense match for both sides.

An entertaining match for the neutral, and Chelsea go on to the semi-finals to continue their Champions League adventure, already dreaming about a potential repeat of their triumph in Munich, 2012. 

Meanwhile in the other quarter-final tie, Real Madrid have remarkably held on to record a 3-2 aggregate win in Germany against Bundesliga side Dortmund, who should count themselves extremely unlucky not to progress to the Last 4 after a valiant effort in-front of their loyal home support. 

A brace from Reus was impressive but not enough for Dortmund as they were left to ponder if they had taken their chances (especially Mkhitaryan!), a cruel way to get knocked-out especially as they dominated a Real side which looked ordinary without Ronaldo.