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Football

PSG see off Chelsea to reach Uefa Champions League quarters

Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up one goal and scored another in PSG's 2-1 success at Chelsea.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up one goal and scored another in PSG's 2-1 success at Chelsea. Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc hailed star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Wednesday night for his performance in the 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the second leg of their last 16 Uefa Champions League tie. 

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The 34-year-old Sweden international set up PSG's opening goal in the first half for Adrien Rabiot. He volleyed in the winner mid way thourgh the second half.

Ibrahimovic, who was sent off during PSG's last 16 match against Chelsea in last season's competition, has faced criticism throughout his trophy-laden career for failing to reproduce his domestic pyrotechnics at the business end of European competitions.

But Blanc said that Ibrahimovic had highlighted his worth during Wednesday night's game at Stamford Bridge.

"Zlatan played a match in keeping with what he's done this season," the former France international said. "You always have doubts because it's Ligue 1. That's the truth. You ask if he can play like that in the Champions League? He gave his response."

Blanc has identified success in the Champions League as PSG's priority this camapign.

After an unprecedented clean sweep of all three domestric trophies last season, they are on course to repeat those exploits. They are just a few points away from securing a fourth straight Ligue 1 title and they have already secured a spot in the League Cup final. PSG face Lorient in the semi-final of the Coupe de France on 19 April.

"Zlatan has important qualities for us," added Blanc. "He moves the two centre-backs around in the opposing team. Technically he sees things very quickly. When he drops deep -- which we ask him to do -- he helps put our game in place. He played a great match, like lots of PSG players.

"His performance against Chelsea won't give him confidence as he already has huge confidence in himself. But a goal and an assist will do him well and the coach and the club get the benefit."

Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink also praised Ibrahimovic.

"He's been proving for many, many years what kind of player he is," he commented. "He's a personality, he's the boss in this team and they use him perfectly.

"He's not the youngest, but for his age, for a footballer he's doing very well. He can adapt himself, also through his big personality, in any league in Europe."

With Chelsea exiting the competition for the second consecutive year at the last 16 stage, the west Londoners will now turn their attention to the FA Cup. The Blues travel to Everton this weekend to play for a place in the semi-final.

"Chelsea is now in a transition period," said Hiddink, who has returned last season's Premier League champions to an even keel after succeeding Jose Mourinho who was sacked in December.

"They have to see how to go on and try to regain the lost terrain where Chelsea used to be. Chelsea must consider its short future, how to handle this."

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