UCL: Chelsea out as Zlatan hands PSG victory

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Crucial: Ibrahimovic fires home.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Chelsea tumbling out of the Champions League as Paris Saint-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 went off injured after an hour 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 triumph in this competition which has proved elusive in his illustrious career so far.

And as he impressed, duly PSG advanced to a fourth straight Champions League quarter-final and Chelsea were left to contemplate the probability of being absent from the competition next season.

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

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.

The visitors, 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 goal in 15 appearances under interim manager 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. 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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UCL fans' top-5: Messi stars, Muller and Neymar impress

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Use #360fans to have your say.

Each week, Sport360 will be bring you the best five players from this week’s Champions League matches, as chosen by you the supporters through our ValoraFutbol fan ratings tool.

YOU have direct influence on who appears in each Top Five so be sure to rate each weekend.

Do you agree with this week’s Top Five? Have your say by using our Valora Futbol tool or on Twitter using #360Fans. ​

1 LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA) – 6.97

Barcelona’s magic man was at it again against Arsenal, scoring twice at the Emirates to hand his side the advantage going into the second leg.

At the Nou Camp, Barca will hold a two-goal lead and will be nigh on impossible to be knocked out save for a memorable Arsenal comeback.

Messi now has five goals in this season’s competition.

2 DOUGLAS COSTA (BAYERN MUNICH) – 6.93

Although the Bayern man was not directly influential in his side’s two goals, his energetic play caught the eye of our #360fans.

Costa’s pace and dribbling threat was a constant menace to Juventus and he will feel aggrieved not to have gotten on the scoresheet.

Bayern will be more frustrated for throwing away a two-goal lead and drawing 2-2 but the away goals put them in pole position.

3 THOMAS MULLER (BAYERN MUNICH) – 6.87

Muller did reward his play with a goal, scoring Bayern’s opener on the stroke of half-time.

It was the German’s sixth goal of the campaign, in what has already been a fruitful one for the forward.

Pep Guardiola will be hoping this form continues as he searches for the elusive Champions League trophy, in his last season at the cub, that has so far deserted him in Munich.

4 NEYMAR (BARCELONA) – 6.85
The Brazilian setup Messi’s opener and was integral to another fine display from the Catalan giants.

Neymar has now laid on five goals for his teammates, the tournament’s highest number of assists this season.

With Luis Suarez not needed to contribute this week, it was a frightening result for those watching.

5 IVAN RAKITIC (BARCELONA) – 6.81

The Croatian midfielder was at his absolute best as Barcelona completely controlled the midfield in North London.

Rakitic’s raking passes and ability to retain possession brought back memories of club legend Xavi in his pomp.

A key part of Barca’s well oiled, slick side under Luis Enrique.

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Pellegrini denies City have lost focus ahead of Dynamo Kiev clash

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Manchester City's injury list includes Kevin De Bruyne, Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas.

Manuel Pellegrini insists he is having no problems motivating his Manchester City players.

Pellegrini’s side have lost three of their four games since it was announced he would be leaving at the end of the season to make way for Pep Guardiola.

Sunday’s 5-1 FA Cup defeat at Chelsea should be viewed in a different context because City fielded an under-strength side but the previous two losses to Leicester and Tottenham were damaging to Premier League title hopes.

City now need to pick themselves up as their Champions League challenge resumes with the first leg of their last-16 tie at Dynamo Kiev.

Speaking in the Ukrainian capital, Pellegrini said: “No, really that is not a problem. All the players from the start, they are just thinking in this season – that we have important challenges from now until the end of the year, and the best way is to be focused in every game.

“Now it is the Champions League, after that we have the (League Cup) final at Wembley on Sunday, and on Wednesday we will return to the Premier League.

“So it’s very easy because we are focused on having a season that works this year.”

Pellegrini has received heavy criticism for the side he selected at Stamford Bridge, which featured six teenagers and five players making their full debut, but he has no regrets.

He said: “Unfortunately for us, we have to make a difficult decision against Chelsea, but it was the only clear decision we had to make in this moment. If we had a completely fit squad, then a lot more experienced players could have played that game, but that was not the case. We had to take a chance but this (Champions League) is  absolutely different.”

As senior stars return, Pellegrini hopes his side soon slip back into gear against a side that has not played competitively since December 9.

He said: “The important thing for our players is to have a good performance, we know it’s 180 minutes – it’s just the first leg – so we know it’s the performance is important.”

The game at Kiev’s Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex will take place in front of a full crowd after sanctions ordering the game to be played behind closed doors were lifted.

Kiev were initially ordered to play two games at a closed stadium, for offences including the racist behaviour of fans, but successfully appealed against the severity of the ruling, meaning supporters can now attend.

Pellegrini said: “One of the worst things you can do is play in an empty stadium without fans. In this case, fans of Kiev have a lesson about what happened.

“For me, I know maybe for the home team it’s not advantage to play without fans, but for football it’s important. I hope in this case it will be a lesson for these fans and tomorrow we have a normal game.”

Central to Dynamo’s hopes of beating the Premier League side will be winger Andriy Yarmolenko who has admitted he sees this game as a chance to put himself in the shop window.

Yarmolenko has forever been linked with a move west after emerging in the Dynamo side aged 18 and going on to become a regular for club and country.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton have all maintained interest in the Ukraine international who, at the age of 26, may now feel the time is right to make the plunge and sign for a club in one of Europe’s more high-profile leagues.

He said, “I would certainly like to prove myself at the highest level. I watch the Premier League and La Liga regularly as they are the best leagues in Europe in my opinion. Although I have to say that English football holds the biggest attraction for me.

“Playing for such big crowds is what every player dreams about. I would like to do that week in and week out. It would be great to step into a stadium like that every three or four days.”

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