SUPER Eagles midfielder Mikel Obi crowned his 57th appearance in the Uefa Champions League with a brilliant goal last night for Chelsea although they lost 1-2 away in France to Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
Mikel, 28, who is hoping to surpass Nwankwo Kanu’s record of 60 Champions league appearances, gave his club a great chance of into the quarter finals with his away goal last night at Parc de France. Since he joined Chelsea in 2006, Mikel has always been part of the squad averaging 37 games per season in all competitions.
PSG come to Stamford Bridge for the return leg in a fortnight’s time and victory for Chelsea would see Mikel get the chance of equalling Kanu’s record and potentially beating it this season. Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has described Mikel as the midfielder that brings balance to the team which makes him a dependable team player.
Last night, on the stroke of halftime, Mikel slammed home a goal from close range after Diego Costa had flicked Willian’s corner into his path. It was just his sixth goal in 348 games for the club and cancelled out PSG’s 39th opener, which Mikel was partially responsible for after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s free-kick struck him en route to beating Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
However, Chelsea ended up losing the match as Uruguayan Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score a winner for the French side ion the 78th minute. Chelsea’s stoic defending had them on course for a draw, before Cavani steered home Angel di Maria’s pass, which now makes the second leg a winner-takes-all affair.
This is the third successive season Chelsea and PSG have been drawn against each other and both previous ties were decided on away goals. Chelsea progressed in 2014 despite losing the first leg 3-1 in Parc des Princes but were beaten last season.
Yesterday’s loss was Chelsea’s first defeat since Hiddink took charge after Jose Mourinho’s sacking in November, leading his team to a 12-match unbeaten run. PSG for their part are unbeaten in 44 league games and lead second-placed Monaco by 24 points in the French league.
Mikel has admitted that Chelsea were disappointed to lose against PSG but achieved their aim of scoring an away goal against the Ligue One champions. He expressed optimism that they would turn the tie around during the second leg in London.
“We know they’re a very good team and our aim was to come out here and get a goal and we’ve done that tonight. We still have the second leg to play back home, so we have to take that back home and capitalise on that and make sure we build on that,” Mikel added.