Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes players will try "every trick in the book" because of their desperation to win football matches.
The Blues’ conduct in their Champions League elimination came in or criticism from pundits on RTÉ and Sky as nine of Jose Mourinho’s players surrounded Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers before the harsh dismissal of Ibrahimovic for a foul on Oscar after 31 minutes.
For his part PSG talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic branded the Blues “babies”.
But former Liverpool captain Gerrard told BBC: “I think it’s normal when you play games at that level. Players want to win so much.
“You’ve got managers who want to win so much, players will try every trick in the book to get over the line and try and win football matches.
“Sometimes it doesn’t look nice, but we’ve all been guilty of it throughout our careers, of not always abiding by the rules. Football’s not always going to look nice.”
The French side progressed to the quarter-finals on away goals despite having Ibrahimovic sent off and Gerrard added: “PSG were the better team and good luck to them.”
For his part, Chelsea captain John Terry defended his team’s actions.
“Once they’re charging the ref, the only thing we can do is respond,” Terry said.
“You can’t as a group of players let them surround the ref, trying to get our players booked.
“For me if I have to run 20, 30 yards, it doesn’t look great but when you’re standing back and seeing five or six of their players surrounding the ref, for me I think I support my team-mates.
“And once I go, four or five go with me, it doesn’t look good at all but that’s part of the game. We’ll match it if people want to mix it, that’s part of our game as well.
“You have to stick up for your team-mates. Every other side is as bad as each other. It’s part of the game.”
The Blues are five points clear of second-placed Manchester City ahead of Sunday’s clash with Southampton and have a game in hand on the holders. Already this season Chelsea have seen an eight-point lead established and evaporate before opening up an advantage again.
It will be a test of Mourinho’s mettle and man-management to ensure Chelsea deliver a first championship in five years. Should the Blues be caught and miss out, only owner Roman Abramovich will know what the future would hold for Mourinho.
“We have to pick ourselves up and go again now,” Terry said. “There’s enough experience in the squad to rally round and get everyone going again. The manager said then if we can win the Capital One Cup and the Premier League, it will be a very successful year.
“We’ve got another big game against a very good Southampton side. Southampton will come playing on the front foot and, if we’re not at it, we’ll drop points.”
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