Final whistle verdict: In the race
news Tue 16 Feb 2016
Guus Hiddink believes our Champions League last 16 tie remains in the balance largely due to the fact we scored an away goal.
It was John Mikel Obi who cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s deflected free-kick on the stroke of half-time. Diego Costa had earlier been denied an opening goal by a brilliant save and the striker had a decent chance to put us ahead in the first few minutes of the second half but again Kevin Trapp thwarted him.
Our hosts began to reassert themselves but found Thibaut Courtois and our defence in fine form. There was nothing they could however about Edinson Cavani’s winner 12 minutes from time, a goal that gave PSG the advantage on the night if not, Hiddink believes, in the tie overall…
‘I think it’s still 50-50,’ said Hiddink. ‘Of course a defeat is never a good or a nice feeling but you have to consider it’s a two-legged game.
‘Scoring away is always good and we emphasise that. We had good, tactical defensive organisation. On top of that we were dangerous but we were not lethal with the four or five counters we had.
‘It’s not a dramatic loss. Losing 2-1, we are still in the race.’
Hiddink highlighted the team’s defensive work
‘Bearing in mind we were playing a very good strong team the performance of our players was tactically very good. I repeat we could have been more lethal on the counter.
‘The players did well, and not just the four defenders. We also had midfielders who did good defensive work. We had to reshuffle. Two weeks ago we played with Zouma and Terry, meaning also the full-backs had different positions. I’m happy with all their performances.’
Hiddink was also pleased we were able to pose an attacking threat
‘We were a little bit nervous in the first 10 minutes. After that we started playing and got some chances and were a little bit unlucky with our final ball. We had possibilities before the equaliser. We had one or two chances to hurt them and they got a little bit unstable by the way we played.’
Eden Hazard started again and Hiddink assessed his performance
‘He was a threat going forward. He had some good runs. This was a game with a high intensity and after 65 or 70 minutes it was enough. He will be better and better.'
Hiddink said John Terry’s fitness will be assessed in the coming days with a decision to be made later this week about his availability for Sunday. The manager then looked further ahead to the second leg
‘They know how to defend. We also have the quality to outplay their midfield one on one which we did several times with Willian. Their defence has to make choices as well.
‘They have a nose for creating danger where you are weak. You must be very alert because if you lack concentration for three or four seconds they will take advantage as they did for their second goal.
‘There are some weeks to prepare for it and I hope everyone is on board for the second leg.’