Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score the winning goal in the first leg of Paris Saint-Germain‘sChampions League last 16 clash with Chelsea this evening.
John Obi Mikel had earlier cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s opener at the Parc des Princes, but it is PSG who will take the narrow advantage into the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 9.
The hosts made a quick start to the match, dominating possession in the opening exchanges and threatening with long-range efforts from Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura in the first five minutes.
Ibrahimovic, who was controversially sent off in the last meeting between these two sides, was the next to come close for the home side when his long-range free kick curled narrowly past the post.
Chelsea had spent the vast majority of the opening 20 minutes on the back foot, but they came within inches of breaking the deadlock against the run of play midway through the first half when Diego Costa saw his firm header turned onto the crossbar by a point-blank one-handed Kevin Trapp save.
Ibrahimovic had a headed chance of his own shortly after the half-hour mark when he peeled off Gary Cahillin the area, only to get his effort all wrong and nod it straight down into the ground.
The Swede would not have to wait much longer for the opening goal, although he was given a helping hand when his driven free kick deflected off Mikel in the Chelsea wall, leaving Thibaut Courtois helpless.
Mikel had also given away the free kick, but he atoned for that and his questionable attempt to block the subsequent shot by levelling things up with the last kick of the first half to give Chelsea a valuable away goal.
Costa was able to flick a header on at the near post which fell to the midfielder, who took a touch before drilling his shot past Trapp for just the sixth goal of his 11-year Chelsea career.
That allowed the visitors to sit back and look for opportunities on the counter when they emerged for the second half, and that tactic almost provided a goal within minutes of the restart when Costa was thwarted in a one-on-one with Trapp.
It was Courtois who would be the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half, however, and he was called upon to deny a long-range strike from Angel di Maria and a powerful drive from Ibrahimovic in the opening 10 minutes of the half.
PSG’s pressure continued to grow as the second half wore on, and it took another smart stop from Courtois to deny Lucas before a combination of Branislav Ivanovic and Cahill threw their bodies in the way of aBlaise Matuidi effort after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the six-yard box.
Di Maria then tested Courtois with a curling free kick, but the hosts were given a warning shot when Oscarwas released through on goal and was just a toe away from poking the ball beyond Trapp to put the visitors ahead.
PSG would get the winning goal just one minute later, however, when Di Maria clipped a pass over the top that Cavani drilled past Courtois at his near post just four minutes after coming off the bench.
It was PSG who pushed hardest for the game’s fourth goal in the closing stages, with Marquinhos breaking into the penalty area before seeing his effort blocked and Courtois denying Ibrahimovic once more in the final minute of normal time.
Pedro had one final sight of goal for the visitors when he lashed a half-volley into the side-netting, but Chelsea were unable to find a second away goal and will now welcome PSG back to Stamford Bridge with a one-goal deficit in the tie.