Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was the happier of both coaches following a 1-1 draw at Paris St-Germain in a Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
Branislav Ivanovic placed Chelsea in the lead before the interval at the Parc des Princes but Edinson Cavani pulled back for the French champions who, despite an improved second half showing were left ruing their inability to once again keep a clean sheet before the return leg on 11 March.
“Overall the draw is a fair result but if you take into account the number of chances and saves by goalkeepers, they had more than us, so if someone was closer to winning, it was Paris,” the Portuguese boss admitted in his post-game spin.
“This two-legged tie is now a one-legged match. With this 1-1 draw, everything is open.”
The setting for the blockbuster encounter was that of revenge for the Parisians following their away-goals shortcomings last term having been eliminated from the quarter-finals of the same competition by the west London outfit.
Like ten months ago, it was again the Blues who broke the deadlock, signaling an upset, but a revitalised forward play in the second half had Mourinho’s men hanging on a knife edge. And had Cavani got a little bit clinical late on and Zlatan Ibrahimovic not been denied by the impressive Thibault Courtois, who pulled off about five terrific saves to help retain hopes, at the tail end; the bottom line could have been more pronounced than it is now in reality.
Moreover, Mourinho was afforded every reason to glance up the light at the end of the tunnel, better still see beyond the horizon.
“The first half was our half,” the 52-year-old said. “They were playing deep, so we could play the ball around and let the clock tick. In the second half, they were much more aggressive, managing to win the ball quickly.
“They’re a fantastic team with fantastic players. They have a great front three- when they make a chance, they are dangerous. There’s really a lot of talent in that team.
“Now everything will be decided at Stamford Bridge.”
Mourinho was quick to strike a balance in the case of injured players denied a chance to make the big games when their club needed them most after PSG were without five first-team players following a costly draw with Caen on the domestic front last weekend.
Mourinho added: “Sometimes people speak about the players when they are injured and do not play. There are injured players who play, they don’t train to play.
“Often you know the injured players will not play, but sometimes they surprise you. (Eden) Hazard, Willian, Oscar, (Cesc) Fabregas and Ivanovic hadn’t trained since the Everton game. Yesterday they trained for the media and to show they could play. Cesc was sick in bed for three days and couldn’t train but they all came back in and gave everything.”
Mixed feelings for Blanc
PSG had been eliminated on away goals in their last two campaigns (against Barcelona in 2013, Chelsea in 2014) and manager Laurent Blanc was “satisfied” with the outcome this term but once more hunted by same ghost.
They will now have to go to Stamford Bridge hoping to flick the table on the Premier League leaders- a feat they were unable to achieve last season, better still before their home crowd.
“Everything happened almost as we had planned, which is satisfying. It was a pleasure watching this game. We played well, almost a perfect game. Except for one thing, we did exactly what we had planned,” Blanc said.
“It’s a bit frustrating. We have to admit this Chelsea side came here to score and away goal and got it.
“We’ll keep attacking in the return leg but we’ll do it smartly. One goal will be enough if we defend well.”