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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Champions League: David Luiz Returns to Haunt Chelsea, Bayern Steamroll Shakhtar

Chelsea were dumped out of the UEFA Champions League without losing a game after a pulsating 2-2 draw with Paris Saint Germain at Stamford Bridge.

With their first leg match having ended even at 1-1, Chelsea hosted the French champions knowing that a win or a 0-0 draw at full time will see them progress to the last 8 for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons.

Their job against the visitors, aiming to establish themselves among the Champions League elite, seemed to have been made easier by referee Bjorn Kuipers who showed PSG star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic a straight red card for a foul on Oscar at the half-hour mark. Ibrahimovic’s red card was fourth in the competition and saw him join Edgar Davids as players with the highest dismissals in Champion League history.

Chelsea did not make their one-man advantage count though as they first half ended with less to talk about other than Ibra’s dismissal.

The first real opportunity in the game fell to Edinson Cavani in the 54th minute. The Uruguayan beat the offside trap before rounding keeper Thibaut Courtois. However, his angled shot hit the post giving Chelsea a let off. The match descended into nasty challenges and gross indiscipline, ex Chelsea boy David Luiz and Diego Costa the center of it and the two were booked, the latter for a nasty challenge and the former for play-acting.

Gary Cahill looked to have secured Chelsea progress to the last 8 when he slammed home from close range from a Diego Costa miscued kick inside the PSG danger area. However, the defender’s third goal for Chelsea in this season’s Champions League was rendered useless by Luiz who thumped in a bullet header to make it 1-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate forcing the match to extra time.

Chelsea surged ahead once again, Eden Hazard converting their 5th penalty in Champions League this season after David Silva had naively handled the ball in the box. The Belgian sent PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way for a 2-1 lead just six minutes into the first half of extra time.

Silva made amends for his costly error, the Brazilian finding the back of Courtois’ net with a looping header just six minutes before full time. With the game ending 3-3 at full time (the same scoreline as last year when the two met at the same stage), it was Laurent Blanc’s men who were celebrating a grandstand result. The French champions’ win made them only the second French team to knock Chelsea out of Europe after Monaco eliminated them in the 2003-04 Champions League.

Despite Chelsea being knocked out, the fact that they didn’t lose stretched Jose Mourinho’s record against French teams, the Portuguese now having lost only one of his last 17 Champion League clashes against French opposition.

Meanwhile at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Bayern Munich reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League for a record 14th time after outclassing and smashing Shakhtar Donetsk 7-0, equaling their highest win in the competition (vs Basel in 2011/12).

The Bavarians who had been held to a barren stalemate in Ukraine two weeks ago were ruthless against a toothless Shakhtar who in that draw must have wrongly felt that they were anywhere near the same level as Pep Guardiola’s men.

The Bundesliga side, unlike Chelsea, made their one-man advantage count after Shakhtar’s Olexandr Kucher was sent to the showers early having gotten a red card with only 3 minutes on the clock; the fastest red card in Champions League history.

There were six different goalscorers for Bayern with only Thomas Muller scoring twice as he joined Mairo Gomez as the best German scorer in Champions League history.

Bayern were 2-0 up at half time, Muller having converted the penalty from Kucher’s foul on Mario Gotze inside the box before Jerome Boateng found the back of the net from close range.

The Bavarians switched to top gear after the interval. Franck Ribery made it 3-0 in the 49th minute, Muller grabbed his second on the night, Holger Badstuber heading in their 5th before Roberto Lewandowski and Gotze completed the rout.

Manuel Neuer was once against underworked, the German making only one save against Shaktar in both legs.

Bayern are yet to lose, draw or conceded in a Champions League match this season. Their last three matches have ended 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and lately 7-0,  huge warning to would-be quarterfinal opponents.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!