Chelsea down and out after 'shameful' display
Despite an unjust man advantage over PSG for most of the match, Chelsea failed to profit from their gamesmanship
Chelsea 2 Paris Saint-Germain 2 [3-3 on aggregate, PSG win on away goals]. Chelsea are out of Europe and in the eyes of most a disgrace to the good name of football.
As predicted, their second leg Champions League last 16 against the French champions was a tempestuous affair, a game marred by the manner in which the Chelsea side conspired to have PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off.
It should have been the defining moment of the match, but Chelsea, so energetic in their appeals to have the Swedish striker dismissed, were lacklustre elsewhere.
For one hour of normal time – plus the 30 minutes of extra-time – the Blues had a man advantage but you would never have guessed it. PSG were hungrier, sharper and stronger, and deserved to progress to the last eight.
"Our performance was not good enough," admitted Jose Mourinho. "The opponent was stronger than us, they coped better with the pressure of the game."
Mourinho, who before the match had spoken of PSG's aggressive style, had the temerity to suggest it was the visitors who were guilty of gamesmanship, telling reporters they had been "clever" in their tactics: " They were aggressive, what we used to call 'clever' on the continent. In England, that is not accepted as clever," he said.
"They did what they did, after the second goal there was no more game. Simulation of injuries, they stopped the game completely. It is the beauty of English football but in continental football the other teams are more prepared to cope with the mental side. "
But the cleverest team in the first-half was Chelsea, nine of their players swarming round referee Bjorn Kuipers in the moments after Ibrahimovic had clattered into Oscar. It was a clumsy challenge but TV replays clearly showed there was no malice in the tackle, no raised studs and in fact not much hard contact as the giant Swede tried to pull out of the collision.
But the referee whipped out his red card to the delight of Chelsea, and a stunned Ibrahimovic had to make the lonely trudge to the dressing room with just 31 minutes of the game gone.
"It felt like I had a lot of babies around me," he said later. "I don't know if I have to get angry or start to laugh. For me when I saw the red card I was like 'the guy doesn't know what he's doing'."
Ibrahimovic had the sympathy of most of the footballing world. As former Scotland and Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness told the Sky Sports studio: "The reaction of the Chelsea players on the challenge on Oscar is something we can do without. I find it totally unacceptable. That's how pathetic it is."
The biggest baby of the lot in Chelsea colours was Diego Costa, who should have been sent off himself in the second half for his petulant push on Marquinhos, having already been booked for a reckless challenge. Fortunately for Chelsea, referee Kuipers – who struggled to control the game – didn't see the incident and the Spanish striker remained on the pitch, though like most of his teammates he struggled to make much of an impression.
Despite their dismal display, twice Chelsea thought they had won it. First, on 81 minutes, when Gary Cahill lashed the ball into the PSG net from a corner. But the Blues' lead lasted just five minutes, the time needed for David Luiz to power a header past Thibault Courtois. Then in extra-time Eden Hazard coolly slotted a penalty following Thiago Silva's handball, but the Brazilian defender soon atoned for his error with another wondrous header from a corner to take PSG through to the quarter-finals.
"The players produced an extraordinary match, from start to finish," exclaimed their coach, Laurent Blanc. "We tried to play more football than Chelsea and we created more dangerous chances. It was a fantastic performance by the whole squad."