Paris St Germain sustained their hopes of reaching the Champions League quarterfinals when Edinson Cavani’s powerful second-half header salvaged a 1-1 home draw against Chelsea in their last-16 first leg on Tuesday.
Cavani struck early in the second half to cancel out Branislav Ivanovic’s first-half header, which was scored against the run of play after the French champions had dominated from the start at the Parc des Princes.
Chelsea, who won last year’s quarterfinal with PSG on away goals, scored with their only chance while the hosts had several opportunities to take a lead into the second leg through Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic but failed to take them.
The return will be played at Stamford Bridge on March 11.
PSG manager Laurent Blanc, having to deal with a barrage of injuries, fielded David Luiz in an unusual holding midfield position while Marquinhos paired up with fellow Brazilian Thiago Silva in central defence.
PSG were without defensive midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Thiago Motta, fullback Serge Aurierand forward Lucas, who were all injured.
Gregory van der Wiel started at right back with the task of containing Chelsea’s Belgium forward Eden Hazard, which he did rather well.
Chelsea, who were only missing John Obi Mikel, looked content to sit back and wait, hoping to hit the hosts on the break.
PSG dominated possession and came close to opening the scoring in the 11th minute when Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois tipped away Blaise Matuidi’s header from Cavani’s cross.
Uruguay striker Cavani’s header at the near post from Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner was also superbly saved by the diving Courtois in the 34th.
But it was Chelsea who took the lead two minutes later with their first attempt on goal involving three defenders as Ivanovic emphatically headed the ball home after Gary Cahill cleverly flicked on a John Terry cross.
PSG went on the attack after the break and were rewarded when the unmarked Cavani equalised after 54 minutes with a firm downward header from Matuidi’s cross on the right.
Ibrahimovic then slalomed through the defence before his low shot was saved by Courtois and the rebound fell to the feet of Lavezzi, whose attempt was blocked by Terry.
Cavani then had another header tipped over the bar by Courtois and after a dazzling run into the area saw his low poked shot roll just wide 10 minutes from time.
Blanc brought on Lavezzi for Javier Pastore before Ibrahimovic almost found the winner with a header that was brilliantly saved by Courtois in added time.
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