Struggling striker Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score the winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Chelsea 2-1 in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Cavani, who has lost his place in the side in recent weeks, latched onto a superb pass over Chelsea’s stretched defense from winger Angel di Maria and slotted through the legs of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from a narrow angle in the 78th minute.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead with a powerful free-kick in the 39th minute, only for Chelsea to level against the run of play on the stroke of halftime with a rare goal from midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Courtois made a string of saves to keep Chelsea in contention heading into the second leg.
PSG knocked Chelsea out on away goals at the same stage last year after the Blues had prevailed the previous season in the quarter-finals and have the edge going into the second leg.
It was Chelsea’s first defeat in 13 games since Dutchman Guus Hiddink took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho but they will fancy their chances at Stamford Bridge on March 9.
With Chelsea’s inspirational captain John Terry ruled out with a hamstring injury, Branislav Ivanovic moved from full back to central defence and wore the skipper’s armband.
Marco Verratti started for PSG having only just recovered from a groin injury, while Blanc chose to field Marquinhos on the right side of defence in place of the Serge Aurier, who has been suspended for insulting Blanc and several team mates.
Chelsea had the best chance midway through the first half when striker Diego Costa’s point-blank header was instinctively palmed on to the bar by PSG keeper Kevin Trapp.
Ibrahimovic, who was sent off in London last year and picked up a yellow card on Tuesday, broke the deadlock six minutes before halftime with a low free kick deflected past Courtois by the heel of Obi Mikel, who had fouled Brazilian Lucas.