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PSG check Chelsea charge

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

By Trevor Haylett at Stamford Bridge

[1] Paris Saint-Germain FC became the first team to hold Chelsea FC in this seasons UEFA Champions League and the draw means that a similar result at home to PFC CSKA Moskva in their final fixture will be enough to take them into the knockout stages as long as holders FC Porto do not defeat Chelsea.

First place assured

[2] For Chelsea, who made sure of winning the group on Matchday 4, the result was not so important though they still carved out the better chances. With nine minutes remaining Didier Drogba looked sure to end the deadlock when fellow substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen guided him through. However Drogba's rustiness after a long absence showed as he shot straight at Lionel Letizi.

Chelsea changes

[3] José Mourinho had already said that Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira and Claude Makelele would sit this game out with Chelsea's place in the next phase already assured. First-team regulars Gudjohnsen and Damien Duff were also rested while John Terry joined them on the bench because of concern over a neck injury. Drogba was delighted to be there too, signalling his return after seven weeks out with a groin injury.

Second chance

[4] PSG would have been delighted to learn of FC Porto's victory in the early game, giving the French side the chance to consolidate in second place with one game remaining. To do that however they would have to defeat a team who had lost only once in 20 fixtures - no easy feat.

Pragmatic approach

[5] Chelsea had players eager to make an impression but the collective intensity of the team was not as great as in previous ties. In contrast the visitors lacked nothing in motivation though their approach was cautious, Pauleta operating as a lone striker. Consequently much of the first-half action was bogged down in midfield with only sporadic goalscoring opportunities.

Presentable chances

[6] Mateja Kezman and Joe Cole exchanged passes early on as the latter almost burst though on goal. Frank Lampard, captain in Terry's absence, then gifted PSG an opening with a poorly-placed crossfield pass but Pauleta's shot was blocked, before Kezman burst through to the edge of the area but poked wide.

Chelsea checked

[7] Arjen Robben constantly changed wings in search of the ball, Joe Cole darted here and there and Wayne Bridge was always looking for the chance to surge forward from the back. However, the muted atmosphere on the pitch was matched in the stands, and gradually PSG became more of a threatening force. Reinaldo, along with Bernard Mendy one of two changes from the Matchday 4 lineup, found some space ahead of Ricardo Carvalho but failed to finish.

Close marking

[8] Duff took over from Robben at the interval. The Dutchman's last act was to beat a couple of defenders in that easy, deceptive style that Chelsea fans have thrilled to in recent weeks before sending a disappointing shot wide. Duff was soon involved, although in common with every other blue shirt he always had at least one defender dogging his steps. A hanging cross caused Letizi some difficulty while a Lampard free-kick was only centimetres away from Cole's outstretched boot.

Drogba return

[9] Just after the hour Drogba appeared along with Gudjohnsen. This was a new dimension for PSG to worry about and the number of free-kicks and corners were beginning to mount in Chelsea's favour. From Cole's pass Drogba shot into the near corner but he had strayed offside, which summed up a frustrating night for the home side.

Sylvain Armand holds off Joe Cole at Stamford Bridge