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CL: Cavani’s Strike Hands Hiddink His First Loss

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Paris Saint-Germain edged Chelsea 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie at the Parc des Princes, on Tuesday night.

A 78th minute strike from substitute Edinson Cavani gave the French champions the advantage ahead of the second leg tie on March 9.

The win means Laurent Blanc’s side have lost just once in 40 games this season, while it was a first defeat for Chelsea since Guus Hiddink replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in December.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the home side ahead from a deflected free-kick in the 39th minute before midfielder John Obi Mikel scored at the stroke of half-time to bring Chelsea level.

The Blues were on course for a valuable draw ahead of the second leg, before Cavani steered home Angel di Maria’s pass.

The 29-year old Uruguayan striker, who has been used primarily as back-up to Ibrahimovic this season, played the role of super sub as he kept his cool to meet Di Maria’s flighted ball into the box with a low first-time finish.

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“Scoring away is always good,” said Hiddink. “I’m never happy with a loss but it’s not a dramatic loss.
“I envy a bit the bench of PSG, they have a very strong bench.

“If you see what this team can bring on in the second half – world-class players as substitutes. This is a very strong PSG.

“It was a great game. A Chelsea team that people said was in difficulty showed that they are getting their colour back as well as the discipline that allows them to defend well and break with incredible pace,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc told beIN Sports.

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“We expected a difficult match. It will be difficult at Stamford Bridge too but I think the Chelsea players will be saying the same thing.”

This is the third season in succession in which Chelsea have met the French champions in the Champions League. PSG won at this stage last season after the Londoners triumphed in the quarter-finals in 2014.

In the night’s other last-16 fixture, in-form striker Jonas headed a dramatic injury-time winner for Benfica as the Portuguese champions beat 10-man Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 in Lisbon.