I can’t say I wasn’t nervous going into last night’s match. Needing to turn around a 3 – 1 defeat from the first leg was not going to be easy, especially as one away goal would make a bad situation a lot worse.
It was all dependent on the side that turned up for the match. Chelsea can be the best team in the world one week and lose to a side fighting relegation the next. We have a habit of not making things easy for ourselves and leaving it to the last-minute, which adds to the excitement but doesn’t help the heart much!
Walking to the ground the atmosphere seemed quieter than other matches. I got caught up with a group of PSG fans on the football shuttle train who were in fine voice. It makes a change to get to the ground while it’s still light, it adds to the atmosphere when people can stand outside the pubs enjoying a pre-match drink in the evening sun.
Last night our seats were in the top of the West Stand Upper, not a stand I usually sit in but the atmosphere and view was amazing. The crowd didn’t let the team down last night in terms of support and ultimately we were rewarded with the result we needed.
Losing Eden Hazard early in the first half to injury was met with a nervous energy in the stands. Andre Schurrle his replacement was more than up to the task of driving the team forward, getting the first goal and settling some nerves.
At times it looked as though a few players were struggling to keep up with the pace of the game, but the determination of others made up for it. At times our passing is still letting us down, we end up giving the ball away in crucial areas and making it difficult for ourselves.
Our build up play is slow and laboured at times. Teams playing against us are picking up on dropped passes and ripping us open with fast paced attacks whilst our midfielders are scrabbling to track back and defend. We should be getting better as we approach the end of the season with players having a better understanding of positioning for passes but it isn’t always the case.
I find the corner and free kick situation frustrating. considering the amount of time players spend practicing set pieces on the training ground ours are hit and miss at best. Some corners make their target whilst others don’t pass the first man. It is the same with free kicks, often they sail over the bar signalling another missed opportunity.
It would have been easy in the second half last night for everyone to drop their heads but it didn’t happen. Two gold-bound shots saved by the bar in close succession approaching the end of the match highlighting the task still ahead. As the match wore down and time began to run out it was hard to see where a goal would come from.
At times with the PSG counter attacks it looked as though they would be the ones to get the goal. Mourinho made a couple of tactical substitutions with 25 minutes to go he took off Lampard for Ba and with 10 minutes to go he took off Oscar and brought on Torres, that meant in effect we would have 4 men going forward. I don’t remember us ever having 3 strikers on the pitch at once but why haven’t we tried it before! We had rolled the dice and gone for the win.
PSG countered by bringing on a defender, there was nothing else they could do, the advantage of the first leg tie still in their favour. It looked as though it wouldn’t be our night, not for want of trying when the unthinkable happened.
The forgotten man became the saviour of the night. Demba Ba a firm bench warmer all season got the goal that saved the day and took Chelsea to another Champions League Semi Final.
I can barely remember the goal even though it was right in front of us, it was all a blur. I have been fortunate enough to be at some magical matches at Stamford Bridge and the celebrations last night as that goal when it will rank up there as one of them. I was struggling to breathe with the excitement and shock as everyone was singing and jumping up and down like we had won the trophy. It really was special and unless you have been there it is an emotion that is hard to describe.
Only when I got home and turned on the internet did I see the celebrations from the players. They had run to the corner flag on the opposite side of the pitch so out of view from where we were. Watching Mourinho running down the line was good too. I remember looking down at the PSG players, some lying on the pitch and hoping we’d done enough.
It spurred PSG on to make the last four minutes of the match a tense affair. They had a shot and a couple of corners but in the end we held out. Most of the ground had stayed to the end and joined in the party when the final whistle blew. There were people of course who left before the second goal, I’ve always wondered how that feels when you realise you missed out on that experience.
Edinson Cavani got to experience again what it is like to be in a side who took a 3 – 1 lead to Stamford Bridge for a second leg only to see Chelsea overturn the result and go through! Makes you wonder if he was having second thoughts last night about not signing for us. Although I have to say on his performance over the two legs I didn’t think we had missed much.
We live to fight another day in the tournament. Who knows who our next opponents will be, it wouldn’t surprise me if it isn’t Real Madrid, but after last night I can’t imagine anyone will want a second leg tie at Stamford Bridge. I hear Lisbon is nice in May!