Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc heaped praise on Edinson Cavani after the Uruguayan played the role of super-sub to give his side a 2-1 win against Chelsea in their Champions League last 16, first leg.
Cavani replaced Lucas in the 74th minute of Tuesday’s game at the Parc des Princes and four minutes later beat Thibaut Courtois with a first-time finish from an Angel Di Maria assist to ensure the French champions will take a lead to London for the second leg next month.
It was just his second goal of 2016 after a difficult spell which has seen the player signed for a French record transfer fee of 64 million euros ($71 million;50 million) from Napoli lose his place as a regular starter.
“Whoever got the second goal I would have been happy and I am happy for Edi. He’s a boy who scores goals—we doubt his goal-scoring talents often and then he pops up and shows he can put the ball in the net at any time,” said Blanc.
“He has gone through a very difficult time but I hope the fact he got the goal will be good for him and the team.”
It looked like Chelsea would head back across the Channel the happier after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s free-kick opener was cancelled out by the rarest of goals—a poacher’s finish by John Obi Mikel right on the stroke of half-time.
Several fine saves by Courtois in the second half thwarted PSG for long spells until Cavani’s winner, and now Chelsea will need to score at Stamford Bridge in the return on March 9 if they are to stand a chance of going through.
However, away goals have decided the meetings of these clubs in the last two seasons, with Chelsea advancing in the 2014 quarter-finals and Paris going through in the last 16 a year ago despite being held 1-1 at home in the first leg.
“The big regret for me is that we lost the goal just before half-time,” said Blanc.
“Maybe we need to ask UEFA if it’s fair that away goals count double, but tonight we can be happy because we played the way we want to play.
“It is not a very big advantage but in terms of the football we played it’s very satisfying.”