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Sunday 20 August 2017

Zlatan exacts ultimate revenge at Bridge

Ibrahimovic strike ends Chelsea's Euro dream

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring the winning goal for Paris Saint-Germain Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring the winning goal for Paris Saint-Germain Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Chelsea's injured striker Diego Costa is consoled by interim boss Guus Hiddink and PSG head coach Laurent Blanc as he leaves the pitch during the Champions League round of 16 second leg match at Stamford Bridge Photo: Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Chelsea tumbling out of the Champions League as Paris St Germain claimed a 2-1 last-16 second-leg win at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa had looked like being the night's hero after an all-action display and cancelling out Adrien Rabiot's opener.

But Costa withdrew after an hour due to injury and Ibrahimovic struck seven minutes later to secure a 4-2 aggregate success.

Ibrahimovic on the eve of the tie had denied seeking revenge after 12 months ago being sent off at Stamford Bridge, but had vowed he was better than ever as he continues to chase the European Cup which has proved elusive in his illustrious career so far.

Replaced

PSG advanced to a fourth straight Champions League quarter-final as Chelsea were left to contemplate being absent from the competition next season.

Eden Hazard was again disappointing and he was booed by a handful of home supporters as he was replaced 13 minutes from time.

Away goals had separated the sides in the last two seasons - Chelsea won the quarter-final tie in 2014, but were defeated at the last-16 stage in 2015 - and John Obi Mikel's strike on February 16 at Parc des Princes gave Chelsea a fighting chance.

The performance of Costa did, too. The striker was labelled a "fraud" on the eve of the contest and shed his protective mask inside 10 minutes to reveal himself.

Costa forced a save from Kevin Trapp in the opening moments after Rabiot, in for the injured Marco Verratti, had given the ball away.

Then Angel di Maria and Lucas Moura set to work, targeting Chelsea's left where Kenedy was deployed at left-back.

Branislav Ivanovic scampered back to deny Di Maria, after Lucas fed the ex-Manchester United winger, before Ibrahimovic stole in down the left and his cross beat Chelsea's defence for Rabiot to tuck in at the far post. Kenedy was missing in action.

The television cameras panned to Chelsea's injured captain John Terry, who was surely contemplating the end of his Champions League career.

PSG, who are without challengers in Ligue 1, looked like they had not had to defend all season. And Costa was more of a nuisance than Laurent Blanc had predicted.

Vulnerable

PSG, leading 3-1 and with Mikel's away goal wiped out, continued to play at a high tempo as they sought another. But they looked vulnerable, too.

Thiago Motta lost the ball in midfield to Pedro, who combined with Willian and then Costa, who did the rest. He turned Thiago Silva and fired into the bottom corner.

It was just his second Champions League goal in 15 games for Chelsea, but his 11th in 15 under Guus Hiddink, whose only prior defeat since his appointment was in the first leg. It gave the Blues belief.

Ibrahimovic headed at Thibaut Courtois, while Cesc Fabregas shot wide and Hazard weakly at Trapp, who next saved sharply from Costa.

Hazard and Di Maria swapped shirts at half-time. Hiddink wanted Hazard to show his best after an anonymous first leg, but the Belgian was again poor.

Costa had been a menace, but departed and Chelsea's only other real attacking threat was Willian. He stretched Trapp before Hazard's poor follow up was also saved.

Ibrahimovic then delivered, netting from Di Maria's cross. It was a cathartic moment for the Sweden striker, who missed the 2014 tie through injury and called Chelsea's players "babies" following his sending off 12 months ago.

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