Chelsea fell at the last-16 stage of the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain for the second year running, as the French champions won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to seal a comfortable 4-2 aggregate win.
PSG sent a statement of intent around Europe after beating the Blues home and away, with Guus Hiddink’s side potentially having played their last Champions League tie for a year, at least.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net after just six minutes, but it was ruled out for offside.
Just 10 minutes later though, the Parisians did take the lead. Angel Di Maria found himself in space on the edge of the Chelsea box, and picked out Ibrahimovic, whose cross was met by Adrien Rabiot to put the Ligue 1 leaders ahead.
The PSG social media team labelled Diego Costa a ‘fraud’ earlier this week and their words came back to bite him when the Spaniard levelled proceedings just before the half hour mark. Willian and Pedro did well to tee up the striker, who shuffled past defender Thiago Silva with ease before firing past goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
Aware that they were the inferior footballing outfit, Chelsea looked to catch their opponents on the break, but failed to do so.
Main man Costa was substituted after an hour following an aggravation of an injury that kept him out of Chelsea’s weekend draw against Stoke City.
That made the Blues crumble without their talisman as they fell further behind when Ibrahimovic put PSG 2-1 up. Thiago Motta threaded through a fine ball for Di Maria, whose low cross was buried by the Swede from close-range.
Laurent Blanc’s side held on for a huge victory, as Paris Saint-Germain march into the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile in Wednesday evening’s earlier clash; Benfica inflicted late heartbreak on Zenit St. Petersburg as the Portuguese side qualified for their first Champions League quarter-final since 2012 after wrapping up a 3-1 aggregate victory.
A dire first-half created very little in terms of chances. Striker Artyom Dzyuba went closest for Zenit, but he was unable to add to his six European goals so far this season as his effort rolled just wide of Ederson Moraes in the Benfica goal.
At the other end, reported Manchester United target Renato Sanches was just inches away from giving the Eagles a valuable away goal, but his shot edged wide.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Zenit levelled the tie on aggregate. Former Porto winger Hulk came back to haunt Benfica, as he nodded in a cross from Yuri Zhirkov.
Zenit were five minutes away from stoppage time, but were denied another half hour of football when a long-range effort cannoned off the bar, and fell kindly for Nico Gaitan to head in.
André Villas-Boas’ side threw every man forward in search of two goals, but were caught out when substitute Anderson Talisca rifled in the winner in the sixth minute of extra time.
This will be Villas-Boas’ last European outing as Zenit boss, as he is set to step down at the end of the season. For Rui Vitoria and Benfica though, their European dream continue and head into the quarter-final draw on March 18th.