PSG knocks Chelsea out of Champions League

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PSG knocks Chelsea out of Champions League

LONDON - Zlatan Ibrahimovic demonstrated his enduring attacking threat Wednesday by steering Paris Saint-Germain into the Champions League quarterfinals with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory at Chelsea.

By replicating the first-leg triumph in the French capital last month, PSG eliminated Chelsea for the second successive season in the round of 16 but it is far more damaging for the London club this time.

Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League after a feeble title defense, Chelsea will almost certainly be out of the Champions League next season for the first time since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Although Chelsea conceded in the 16th minute when Ibrahimovic’s cross was turned in by Adrien Rabiot, Diego Costa leveled 11 minutes later on his return from injury.

But Costa was forced off injured on the hour and Ibrahimovic was left unmarked to tap in PSG’s winner seven minutes later.

For the 34-year-old Sweden striker it was a timely goal with his PSG contract expiring at the end of the season while still - like his club - chasing a first Champions League title.

Chelsea’s only success in Europe’s elite competition came during the interim reign of Roberto Di Matteo in 2012. Four years on, Guus Hiddink has failed in the task of his stop-gap spell in the Chelsea dugout, with only the FA Cup now to play for.

Angel Di Maria, who endured a miserable season at Manchester United before joining PSG last year, was a constant menace on his return to England. The Argentine tried to clip the ball past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after six minutes but Branislav Ivanovic cleared.

Di Maria was the architect of the opener, releasing Ibrahimovic on the left flank. The forward slid the ball across the face of the goal to the far post where Rabiot evaded Ivanovic and tapped in.

But Costa, who removed his protective face mask early on, made PSG regret branding him a “fraud’’ in a jocular pre-match Twitter video when he leveled in the 27th minute.?

Thiago Motta sent a pass to Di Maria and Di Maria squared across the penalty area into the path of Ibrahimovic, who had slipped his marker before raising the ball into the net at the far post.

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