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Chelsea 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2 (2-4 agg): Ibrahimovic sinks Premier League champions

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed a gripping 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to send Paris Saint-Germain into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Sweden superstar created the opening goal for Adrien Rabiot and, after half-time, he scored for a fourth consecutive Champions League match to secure a repeat of the first-leg scoreline in Paris.

As in the French capital, Chelsea gave the runaway Ligue 1 leaders plenty to think about and Diego Costa’s all-action performance was deserving of his 27th-minute equaliser.

But the Spain international limped off with an apparent calf injury and, sensing a loss of impetus from Chelsea, Laurent Blanc’s men struck.

Ibrahimovic was sent off before his team-mates secured a memorable extra-time triumph over Chelsea in the same round last season.

But he made no mistake on the end of Angel Di Maria’s 67th-minute cross, granting him the centre-stage he so often craves and occupies as PSG progressed.

Costa was the focus of plenty of pre-match attention from the PSG camp and he forced a third-minute save from Kevin Trapp after the visitors’ defence failed to pass their way out of trouble.

At the other end, Branislav Ivanovic slid to clear Di Maria’s attempt from the goalmouth as a slaloming run from Lucas Moura cut through Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic converted from an offside position from the resulting corner before his incisive piece of play crafted PSG’s 16th-minute opener.

The 34-year-old peeled away to the right to collect Di Maria’s pass and his low cross was scrambled home by the on-rushing Rabiot.

It initially appeared Chelsea would struggle to respond, but they were level 11 minutes later when Pedro dispossessed Thiago Motta and Willian found Costa, who checked inside past Thiago Silva and steered left-footed into the bottom corner.

Guus Hiddink’s decision to select the attack-minded Kenedy at full-back continued to afford PSG opportunities down the Chelsea left, with Ibrahimovic powering a header from Lucas’ cross into Thibaut Courtois’ arms.

Trapp was relieved not to be punished for spilling a Costa shot, while the already booked Motta was a touch fortunate not to see red before half-time for a high challenge on Cesc Fabregas.

Willian got the better of Marquinhos down the left early in the second half, but a third Brazilian, David Luiz, was on hand to block Costa’s shot.

Unfortunately for the hosts, as a compelling contest approached the hour, Costa’s excellent individual display was cut short, with in-form youngster Bertrand Traore on in his place.

Raboit broke up play in the Chelsea half to play in Ibrahimovic, although the latter’s normally impeccable touch was not up to standard and Courtois narrowed the angle well.

Trapp got down sharply to deny the lively Willian in the 65th minute and the German goalkeeper was alert to keep out Eden Hazard’s follow-up.

Those saves soon appeared even more valuable when Motta made up for his part in the equaliser with a sumptuous return ball to Di Maria.

Granted space in the inside left channel, the Argentina international ruthlessly picked his cross for Ibrahimovic to thump in PSG’s 100th goal of the season with a close-range volley.

Ibrahimovic was unable to bundle home a second with 10 minute to play, but, as Chelsea were forced to confront their probable absence from next season’s Champions League, the match-winner left the possibility of a dream farewell from PSG on the table.


Key Opta stats: 

– Chelsea lost a Champions League match at Stamford Bridge for the first time since April 2014 versus  Atletico Madrid.
– PSG are the first French team to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in four consecutive seasons.
– Costa has scored in each of his last five games at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea; his best run for the Blues.
– Ibrahimovic scored his 50th goal in European competition (incl. qualifiers).
– Seven of the last 13 Champions League goals that Chelsea have conceded have come against PSG.
– PSG are the fourth team in Europe’s top five leagues to score 100 goals in all competitions this season alongside Barcelona (132), Real Madrid (107) and Borussia Dortmund (103).


Wed 9 Mar, 2016
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