Chelsea Under-19s retained the UEFA Youth League title with a determined and professional display in Switzerland.
Fikayo Tomori handed the holders the lead after 10 minutes before Bradley Collins, our goalkeeper, denied Jean-Kevin Augustin from the penalty spot moments later. Yakou Meite equalised for PSG but Kasey Palmer’s goal instantly put the Blues back in front and we held firm to land a remarkable back-to-back triumph in the prestigious European competition.
It was an unchanged team selection by Adi Viveash following a comprehensive semi-final victory over Anderlecht. Francois Rodrigues made just one change from the Parisians’ 3-1 semi-final win over Real Madrid. Lorenzo Callegari missed out after coming off injured against Madrid, with Bernede his midfield replacement.
Chelsea came into the final 14 games unbeaten in the competition, a run that saw us lift the trophy a year previously, and created the first chances in the opening 10 minutes.
Jacob Maddox and Mukhtar Ali combined down the right channel to tee up a sight at goal for Tammy Abraham but he was thwarted by a last-ditch sliding challenge before PSG keeper Remy Descamps produced an excellent save to tip the ball over the ball as Kasey Palmer’s dipping drive looked destined for the top corner.
The Blues, wearing an all-white strip for this contest, were rewarded for the bright start with the opening goal after 10 minutes. Palmer’s corner from the right found Jake Clarke-Salter and, while his header was blocked, his centre-back partner was on hand to turn the ball into the back of the net on the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
PSG responded instantly and were handed a great opportunity to level the scores within two minutes as Tomori conceded a penalty for a clumsy foul on Christopher Nkunku, who had escaped down the left. Jean-Kevin Augustin, the 18-year-old French striker with five goals to his name in the Youth League this season, stepped up from 12 yards but his effort was kept out as Collins guessed correctly diving low to his left.
Viveash’s side narrowly escaped again moments later as Yakou Meite headed inches wide from an inswinging left-sided free-kick before the game became more stop-start. Palmer continued to prove a thorn in the side of the Frenchmen and he came close to slipping Maddox in behind but for a timely intervention.
Down the other end, Meite spun into a dangerous area before playing the ball up to forward Odsonne Edouard but Ola Aina defended intelligently to get his body in the way and draw a foul. After 30 minutes, we had a penalty shout of our own as Maddox was bundled over in the box in a challenge not too dissimilar from Tomori’s in the opposite 18-yard box. However, the German referee appeared to change his mind as he drew the whistle to his lips and decided against pointing to the spot.
Clarke-Salter got on the end of another left-sided corner but this time miscued his attempt and, despite PSG enjoying increasing possession as the half progressed, they were unable to trouble Collins again until the final minute of the first period. Antoine Bernede and Alec Georgen combined but the goalkeeper made a smart stop from the latter at his near post.
With the Swiss skies greying, the second half started in lively fashion as Tomori produced an outstanding defensive clearance to divert a cross away from goal, before Yohann Demoncy fired the loose ball over the crossbar. Abraham then fashioned a great chance to double our lead, taking a high pass forward down well but placing his shot too high to trouble Descamps.
PSG were in the ascendancy as Augustin struck narrowly off-target and Abraham blocked well from an inswinging free-kick, and the equaliser came just before the hour mark as Meite advanced infield from the right flank and arrowed a strike into the far bottom corner beyond the dive of Collins.
A trademark of champions is to react positively in the face of adversity and Viveash’s boys took just three minutes to re-establish the lead. Ali threaded a neat pass forward to find Palmer’s attacking run and the midfielder held off the defender’s challenge before squeezing a shot past the onrushing Descamps. It was his fifth goal in seven Youth League matches and his 16th of the season.
The goal deflated PSG after their encouraging start to the second period. Ali’s drive from 30 yards out flew over as the tie entered its final quarter but the side from the French capital soon rallied as they went in search of a second leveller.
Substitute Nanitamo Ikone had an effort deflected inches wide and Collins denied Meite after a Paris break forward, and Sterling arrived in the nick of time deep into his own six-yard box to clear a goal-mouth scramble following a corner.
Chances continued to come and go for PSG, with the young Blues appearing jaded. Meite’s shot deflected just over and then Nkunku skewed wide a wonderful chance after Meite’s cutback. Collins denied substitute Aka Wilfride Kanga in added time as the holders defended doggedly to keep their hands on Europe’s top junior prize.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Bradley Collins; Dujon Sterling, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter, Ola Aina; Charlie Colkett (c), Mukhtar Ali; Jacob Maddox, Kasey Palmer (Charlie Wakefield 86), Kyle Scott (Mason Mount 59); Tammy Abraham
Unused subs Jay Dasilva, Nathan Baxter, Trevoh Chalobah, Isaac Christie-Davies, Ruben Sammut
Scorers Tomori 10; Palmer 61
Booked Tomori, Scott, Aina, Clarke-Salter, Ali
Paris Saint Germain (4-3-3) Remy Descamps; Alec Georgen, Felix Eboa Eboa, Mamadou Doucoure (c), Fode Toure; Yohann Demoncy, Antoine Bernede (Alexis Giacomini 85), Christopher Nkunku; Odsonne Edouard (Nanitamo Ikone 63), Jean-Kevin Augustin (Aka Wilfride Kanga 71), Yakou Meite
Unused subs Leonard Aggoune, Bryan Labissiere, Abdoulaye Konate, Dan-Axel Zagadou
Scorer Meite 58
Booked Eboa Eboa, Meite
Referee Daniel Siebert (GER)
- The game will be shown in full on Chelsea TV from 11pm today (Monday).
- Chelsea TV will also be showing both legs of the FA Youth Cup final as free-to-view broadcasts both online and via Sky Digital. The first leg is on Friday with the second leg the following Wednesday.