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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Champions League: Courtois Saves Chelsea at PSG, Bayern Toothless in Ukraine


Eye on the ball. Chelsea's Gary Cahill tussles with PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic Photo - AP
There were only two goals scored in the opening two matches of the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

The twin goals came from Parc de Princes in Paris where visitors Chelsea assumed a first half 1-0 lead courtesy of Branislav Ivanovic before Edinson Cavani equalized for Paris Saint Germain in the second half.

Laurent Blanc’s injury-strewn PSG could have put the match behind Chelsea’s reach but Thibaut Courtois was on an inspired form saving no less than seven shots fired at his goal. The Belgian kept away three efforts from Zlatan Ibrahimovic while also thwarting Blaise Matuidi and Cavani in the opening half.

PSG had the best chances after kickoff but it was Jose Mourinho’s side who took the lead. Their goal had nothing to do with the returning Diego Costa nor the mesmerizing Eden Hazard. It was defenders, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Ivanovic who combined, the captain’s miscued cross finding Cahill who flicked at the path of unmarked Ivanovic to head home his 7th Champions League goal since 2009.

The hosts drew level six minutes after the restart, Cavani heading home Blaise Matuidi’s cross. Les Parisiens continued to knock at Chelsea’s door but Courtois would have none of it as he almost singlehandedly ensure the Blues go into the return leg with a mammoth advantage.

At the Arena Lviv in Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk held Bayern Munich 0-0 restricting the visitors to only one shot on target. On a night that Xabi Alonso made his 100th Champions League encounter in which he was also red-carded, Pep Guardiola’s side were ineffective going forward despite having the lion share of possession.

It was uncharacteristic of the Bundesliga champions who went to the match at the back of a 8-0 whipping of Hamburg SV and were facing a side who haven’t played a competitive game since December. Such was the lethargic nature of the tie that Shakhtar only had one shot the entire match.

The two sides will meet again in March for the return leg with the tie tipped in the balance.

The Round of 16 continues Wednesday with FC Barcelona hosting FC Porto at the Camp Nou while AS Roma travel to Germany for a clash with Schalke 04.


And That’s thesteifmastertake!!