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Chelsea hold advantage despite PSG recovery from Branislav Ivanovic goal
By SP_COP on February 17, 2015 | From www.theguardian.com
Chelsea hold advantage despite PSG recovery from Branislav Ivanovic goal For Chelsea there was a measure of satisfaction but maybe a hint of exasperation too. They had struck first, courtesy of another addition to Branislav Ivanovicís portfolio of important goals, but what they could not do was further enhance their reputation as possibly the best team anywhere when it comes to absorbing pressure and holding on to a lead.

Josť Mourinho will certainly be aggrieved by the uncharacteristic lapses that let in Edinson Cavani to equalise nine minutes into a second half in which Chelsea barely made any pretence about wanting to commit too many players forward. They invited some prolonged pressure during those moments and, re-energised, Cavani created enough problems in the last half an hour to remind Chelsea that at this level the advantage of taking an away goal into the return leg is only a slight one.

Ultimately, though, it was still a reasonable nightís work from Mourinhoís team, particularly when the manager later revealed that five of his players had barely trained since their last match against Everton.

Chelseaís spells of conservatism might not appeal to everyone. They might not be the most exciting team in the world, or the most daring, but they are hugely effective and, though his team just about always operated with restraint, it is not as if Mourinho is against the odd moment of adventure. Ivanovicís goal was created by a combination of John Terry and Gary Cahill, and how many other occasions will there be in the Champions Leagueís knockout stages when one centre-half crosses, another flicks the ball on and the right-back is there to apply the finishing touch? It was just a pity, perhaps, that Chelsea rarely showed any real ambition to go for a second goal.

For long spells their strategically slow tempo successfully took the sting out of the occasion, making sure their opponents could not build too much momentum, but it was a spirited response from Laurent Blancís side in the second half and Chelsea needed Thibaut Courtois to justify why he had been restored to the team.

Mourinhoís team selection represented a huge show of faith in the Belgian bearing in mind Petr Cechís performance against Everton and Courtois certainly warranted his place. His outstanding moment was probably the near-post save to turn away Cavaniís header a couple of minutes before Ivanovicís goal.

There were other times, when he kept out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and again, in stoppage time, when the Swede had a header to win the game but could not get enough power in his neck muscles to beat the goalkeeper.

Chelseaís tactics once they had taken the lead meant Diego Costa was often an isolated figure in their attack. Cesc Fŗbregas dropped further back into midfield, joining Nemanja Matic and Ramires in protecting the Chelsea back four.

Willian and Eden Hazard tucked inside to cut out even more space and the disappointment for Mourinho was the nature of Cavaniís goal just as it had started to look as if Blancís side were low on ideas.

The most obvious positional error was Cahillís, getting under the cross from Blaise Matuidi and allowing a forward of Cavaniís gifts too much space. Yet Mourinho should not apportion all the blame to one man. The delivery had come from Chelseaís right, with Ivanovic having deserted his position and Willian left with two men to pick up. It was unusual to see Chelsea being prone to this kind of carelessness and Cavani is not the kind of opponent to be generous, flashing his header past Courtois....
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NAMES: Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Mourinho
TAGS: advantage, Chelsea, football, goal, recovery, Serbian professional footballer, win

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