Chelsea FC went down fighting to French champions Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie on Tuesday, but manager Guus Hiddink insists his side are still firmly in contention to go through to the quarter-finals.
Chelsea will host PSG at Stamford Bridge 2-1 down on aggregate in three weeks from now, but the crucial away goal has given the Blues everything to fight for in the second leg. The Premier League outfit reacted impressively after an initial spell of total PSG domination, and deservedly equalised just before half time through the unlikeliest of goalscorers in defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Unfortunately for Guus Hiddink’s men, they were unable to carry forward that momentum in the second half, and after a sustained period of pressure from the Parisians, substitute Edinson Cavani slotted home from a tight angle to give the home side a first-leg victory.
Hiddink remained upbeat following the loss, insisting that his side still have every chance of going through. The Dutchman did, however, express his disappointment at Chelsea’s missed opportunities from counter-attacking situations.
The 69-year-old is quoted by the official club website as saying: “I think it’s still 50-50. Of course a defeat is never a good or a nice feeling but you have to consider it’s a two-legged game.
“Scoring away is always good and we emphasise that. We had good, tactical defensive organisation. On top of that we were dangerous but we were not lethal with the four or five counters we had.
“It’s not a dramatic loss. Losing 2-1, we are still in the race.”
Statistics suggest Chelsea have a decent chance of progressing
The Blues famously overcame a 3-1 first-leg deficit against PSG in 2013/2014 courtesy of a dramatic Demba Ba winner, while also clawing their way back against Napoli in 2011-2012 after losing the first leg by two goals. With Chelsea only trailing by a solitary goal this time, Hiddink is more than justified in believing that his side can progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Some interesting statistics have also emerged following Tuesday night’s clash in Paris (via @MisterChiping): 49% of sides trailing 2-1 going into the second leg managed to overturn the deficit under the competition’s current regulations, and PSG have never gone through (in two attempts) after being up by that score-line from the first leg. There is still plenty of reason for Chelsea supporters to believe that Guus Hiddink and the team can keep their Champions League dreams alive.