Zlatan Ibrahimovic swoops to bury Chelsea

Chelsea 1 PSG 2 (PSG win 4-2 on aggregate): Zlatan Ibrahimovic exacted revenge on Chelsea in the most satisfying way, scoring the winning goal against them at Stamford Bridge to send Paris St Germain through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic swoops to bury Chelsea

The big Swede was sent off in the first half of the same fixture a year ago, and felt the overreaction of Chelsea’s players ot his tackle on Oscar had persuaded the referee to produce a red card.

Although PSG went through on away goals that night, Ibrahimovic was unhappy with his treatment. So it was only natural he celebrated wildly after he drilled home the second goal for the French side, who won 4-2 on aggregate after carrying a 2-1 lead from the first leg three weeks ago. They were simply too good for a Chelsea side still missing captain John Terry.

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said afterwards: “We gave too much respect in the first 10 minutes, they were dominating. They are a good side but once we stepped up we had some chances. In the 67th minute it all changed. We had a good chance to score, then Diego Costa was injured. We knew he was not totally fit but he desperately wanted to play and scored a fine goal.

“You saw the difference between the squads when we had to bring young guys on and they have Edinson Cavani to come in. I must say we had young Kenedy at left-back and he was excellent. It is a difficult season. We were almost panicking about relegation when I came in but it is difficult to get into fourth place.”

The game started at a frantic pace, with Paris St Germain playing controlled attacking football, Angel Di Maria was denied a goal in the fifth minute when Branislav Ivanovic slid in to clear after the Argentinian had taken the ball wide and shot past Thibaut Courtois. Ibrahimovic slipped the ball past the Belgian goalkeeper, only to see an offside flag cut short his celebrations, and the big Swede then had a fierce shot deflected away for a corner.

The Parisians were fully in control for the opening quarter of an hour. And Laurent Blanc’s side were rewarded in the 16th minute when they took the lead, although the goal owed as much to Chelsea’s defensive frailties as PSG’s attacking brilliance.

When Di Maria played an incisive through ball towards a huge space on Chelsea’s left, Ivanovic let Ibrahimovic drift wide, and the Swede had time and space to drill a low cross across the six yard line towards the far post, where the onrushing Adrien Rabiot stabbed it home from close range. Rabiot was superb in the opening stages, with Chelsea’s players appearing to always be a yard off his pace. Di Maria was causing problems too, for a defence that looked nervous. Paradoxically it was Chelsea’s attack-minded players who did most to win the ball back, and eventually it was this that got them back into the game. Pedro was the ball winner in the middle of the park and swapped passes with Willian, who slipped the ball forwards to Diego Costa.

The big striker, who had ripped off his protective mask early in the game, needed no second invitation, turned inside Thiago Silva and fired a low shot past keeper Kevin Trapp.

Chelsea’s fans were delirious, knowing that another goal would draw them level on aggregate, and their side went about getting the next goal with renewed belief and purpose..

Chelsea hustled and harried, and sure enough PSG started to make mistakes. Di Maria gave the ball away dangerously close to his own penalty area, but Eden Hazard’s curling shot was well saved by Trapp at full stretch.

Costa’s superb chest control gave him a run on goal, and Rabiot’s rugby-tackle on the forward earned him a booking, as German referee Felix Brych started to show his cards.

Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Motta were going at it hammer and tongs, and both picked up bookings in quick succession. Chelsea went agonisingly close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time when Trapp spilled Costa’s low shot, but Marquinhos beat Pedro to the loose ball and cleared it off the line.

It was effectively Costa’s last meaningful involvement, as the striker limped off after an hour to be replaced by Bertrand Traore, but the setback did not dim Chelsea’s spirit. Willian was Chelsea’s best player and almost scored in the 65th minute, dancing across the 18 yard line before firing in a fierce shot that Trapp did well to save. The German keeper did even better to push away Hazard’s follow-up shot, and within a minute, Chelsea were dead and buried.

Once again Rabiot was at the heart of the move, clipping a lovely pass out to Do Maria in acres of space on the left. The former Manchester United man looked up, saw Ibrahimovic racing into the area, and curled a perfect pass in for the big striker to ram the ball home from close range.

Ibrahimovic celebrated wildly, perhaps feeling vindicated after his dismissal on this ground a year ago. He’d described Chelsea’s players as “like babies” in getting him sent off in that game, which ended in a 2-2 draw that meant the French side went through on away goals.

There was no chance of that happening once PSG had made it 4-2 on aggregate. They almost scored again, with Courtois making a save with his legs that he seemed to know little about.

The French played out the final minutes almost like a training ground exercise, with Blanc allowed the luxury of sending on Edinson Cavani as a late substiute for Di Maria.

CHELSEA: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Kenedy, Mikel, Fabregas, Pedro, Willian, Hazard (Oscar 77), Costa (Traore 60).

PSG: Trapp, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Maxwell, Rabiot, Thiago Motta, Matuidi (van der Wiel 87), Di Maria (Cavani 82), Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura (Pastore 77).

Referee: Felix Brych (Munich).

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