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Champions League

UCL: Paris Saint-Germain Puts Cue In Rack, Advances To Quarterfinals

Goalscorers Adrien Rabiot and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint Germain celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 9, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. March 09, 2016| Credit: Catherine Ivill - AMA

A draw would have been enough for Laurent Blanc‘s Paris Saint-Germain to do the work and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League knockout rounds. However, they chose to win out and were clinical in their 2-1 win over Guus Hiddink‘s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London, England. Adrien Rabiot (16′) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (67′) delivered for PSG, while Diego Costa (27′) scored for the Blues, who crashed out of the tournament proper.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy because Chelsea are a great side,” said PSG Chairman and CEO Nasser Al Khelaifi. “But we are a great side too. We are very happy to have qualified. We want to go as far as possible in this competition. We are gaining more and more experience, we came here to win and to qualify and we did it, so I’m very happy.”

“There are a lot of things to take from this match,” Blanc noted. “We showed great control, we played our game and we took our chances. It was a big challenge. I thought it would be tougher than last season. We have qualified here two years in a row and that means we’re on the right track. We can always do better. But we played Chelsea and we wore them down. We are very happy because expectation was high.”

“We struggled a little in the first half, but we turned things around in the second half, which is very positive,” said PSG defender Thiago Silva. “I think we played better at the Parc, where we could have won by more. Tonight, we conceded another avoidable goal, we are only going to enjoy this qualification. If we continue like this, I think we can go a lot further in this competition than last season.”

“The aim was to score at least one goal,” said Rabiot. “We did that and we scored first, which gave us a great boost. Even at one-all, we didn’t let our heads drop and the second goal saw us through.”

“We played very well, despite the pressure,” Ibrahimovic said. “We controlled the ball well and scored two goals when we found the space. By beating the best, we are showing that we are a big club. We will keep working hard to continue our European adventure.”

“I am disappointed,” said Hiddink. “When you analyse the game we started too respectfully in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but they are a team who know the short possession game very well and you must be careful not to be outplayed in the first part of the match. We were too respectful but later on, at 1-0 down, we lost that wrong respect and we tried to defend more forcefully, we won duels and we got a deserved equaliser.

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“There were chances both ways after that in the first half. In the second half we pushed, we tried to make it 2-1. We had chances to score in the 65th minute, we didn’t do so and in the 67th minute with a little attack they killed the game.

“In my opinion, Chelsea are now in a transitional period from where they have to see how to go on, and to try to regain the lost terrain where Chelsea used to be. That’s true. It’s difficult to get in to fourth position, there is a very big gap. Chelsea must consider its short-term future on how to handle this, but they knew that beforehand.”

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