PSG match-winner Cavani silences critics again
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be Paris St Germain's top scorer but Edinson Cavani could again be the key player for the French champions in a Champions League tie against Chelsea.
The Uruguay striker, who lost his place in the starting lineup to Lucas, got the winner in a 2-1 success over the London club in Tuesday's last-16 first leg at the Parc des Princes.
Last season, Cavani equalised in a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea before PSG went on to qualify for the last eight on away goals with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
A delighted Cavani said after Tuesday's win: “It was a fantastic night... We the strikers we live for scoring goals and when we do score, it’s like a new lease of life”.
The 29-year-old, who had scored once in all competitions this year, has been criticised by French media for lacking sharpness up front but he has made more impact than Ibrahimovic in key Champions League games in recent seasons.
On Tuesday, he scored only four minutes after coming on for the disappointing Brazilian Lucas.
“I keep saying that Edi is a player who can score a lot of goals,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who has consistently backed Cavani despite the doubts about his form.
"It is our role to help the players who lost confidence. We, the staff and I, have to help him, it is our duty. I have done so with other players before him.”
PSG were not fully rewarded for their domination against Chelsea after enjoying 61 percent of possession and completing more than 500 passes in a Barcelona-style performance.
They were, however, boosted by the performance of midfield metronome Marco Verratti as the Italian completed 94 percent of his passes despite having just returned from a groin injury.
“He played an outstanding game,” said Blanc. “He was tired by the end of the game but it’s normal.
"It is, however, a very good omen for the coming weeks, especially because he did not feel any pain during the match.”
PSG visit Stamford Bridge for the second leg on March 9.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Ken Ferris)