Zlatan Ibrahimovic sinks Blues’ Champions League quarter-finals hopes

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sinks Blues’ Champions League quarter-finals hopes
Mar 10, 2016

Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint Germain celebrates after he scores during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 09, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The French champions were too good for their English counterparts, though it was an entertaining end-to-end battle until Zlatan Ibrahimovic settled it late.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made sure that it was the end of the road for Chelsea in Champions League with a superb performance at Stamford Bridge. Ibrahimovic, the 34 year-old centre forward, created the opener for Adrien Rabiot and the scored the decisive second as Paris Saint-Germain eliminated Chelsea at the last 16 stage for a second successive season.

While Ibrahimovic was in top form, Chelsea’s star players are now a doubt against Everton for the FA Cup 6th Round on Sunday with Costa and Hazard limping off in the second half. Defeat at Goodison Park, following this ultimately comprehensive 4-2 aggregate loss, would bring the curtain down on Chelsea’s season with two months left to run ahead of major rebuilding work this summer.

Since defeating Chelsea at Parc des Princes three weeks ago, PSG have suffered what, for them at least, has been something of a wobble, with Laurent Blanc’s team going into this second leg having collected just one point from their last two league games.

Blanc did not field his strongest XI against defeat at Lyon or home draw against Montepellier but that doesn’t really matter of them since they have a healthy lead at the top of the table.

They remain 23 points clear at the top of the table and that helped Blanc to rest some of his key players for their tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. While Guus Hiddink enjoyed no such luxury and was forced to play arguably the most important game of the season without their Captain, John Terry.

The current Premier League Champions started brightly, with Costa forcing the first save of the game from Kevin Trapp. PSG’s front three of Ibrahimovic, Angel Di Maria and Lucas Moura were like wasps buzzing around the Chelsea penalty area and their movement and understanding were a threat from the off.

Di Maria saw a left-foot effort blocked by Gary Cahill before top-quality play between the Argentine and Ibrahimovic opened up the Chelsea rearguard to enable Rabiot to score the opener on 16 minutes.

It was a sublime pass by Di Maria to Ibrahimovic, but the Swede was given too much room by the dozing Cahill and he was able to run into space before delivering a perfect ball for Rabiot to guide home at the far post.

It was a deserved opener for PSG, whose control of possession was impressive against Chelsea’s more frantic approach, but the home side were able to draw level on 27 minutes, when Costa scored following careless play by Di Maria in the centre of the pitch.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Diego Costa of Chelsea shoots at goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 09, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Hiddink’s men needed a second, but another PSG goal would leave Chelsea having to score a further three times and the French champions cleverly turned the screw on the home team by retaining possession and attempting to strike on the break.

Chelsea’s hopes of clawing themselves back into the tie were dealt a blow on the hour when Costa, appearing to have pulled a calf muscle, limped off to be replaced by Bertrand Traoré. Without their talisman, Chelsea now faced an even more difficult challenge than when they started.

PSG, waiting to land the killer blow, and it was delivered on 66 minutes when Ibrahimovic scored his 50th European goal. That goal from the 34 year-old Centre Forward made sure that it was the end of the Champions League campaign for the club from West London.

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