Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea
But Guus Hiddink's men walked away with a crucial away goal when the most unlikeliest of goalscorers in John Obi Mikel cancelled out Ibrahimovic's free-kick at the stroke of half-time.
Ultimately, the Uruguayan marksman would creep a goal past Courtois' near post midway through the second half to give the hosts the advantage.
Spurred on by a Parc des Princes packed to the rafters with Parisiens, the hosts set out in positive fashion, with Lucas exemplifying the bright start after following up a close run into the box by having his long range attempt whistle past the woodwork.
The Brazilian would be charged down moments later in a last-gasp effort to stop his attempt as Laurent Blanc pleasantly watched on from the sidelines. His side dominated possession throughout the early minutes giving the Londoners no platform to get into the game.
Ángel Di María was also prompting and probing upon the return of Champions League football, showing just what he was capable of following a tumultuous season at Manchester United. Dragging his shot wide from a blistering counter-attack, the Argentine's teammates were more than up for the occasion too.
Courtois sprung into action to keep out Verratti's low shot while Ibrahimović's free-kick curled away from the frame soon after, but despite all the differences in possession and chances, the Ligue 1 Champions were yet to truly rattle the cages of their opposition.
Remaining open was the window of opportunity for the Blues to settle themselves. And they did, soon enough. While Diego Costa's penalty appeals were easily shrugged off after falling to a Thiago Silva challenge, the Blues' hitman would come significantly closer only to be denied by an emphatic Kevin Trapp save; tipping the header from point blank range on to the woodwork.
Pedro soon whipped in a dangerous-looking cross that wasn't connected by Azpilicueta, as Chelsea ever so surely made it more of a contest. Di María's aforementioned shot was dragged wide in a counter which acted as a stark reminder of Paris' threat, before the breakthrough was found.
After John Obi Mikel clipped Lucas to set up a long-range free-kick opportunity for the home side, Zlatan stepped up to score his first ever goal against Chelsea. Albeit helped on by a huge slice of luck as it deflected off Mikel's leg past the keeper, Paris steered ahead and gained a crucial advantage.
With the minutes ticking down towards the half-time interval, the pace would not settle down. It remained well matched until timing was at its best for the Blues to find an equaliser. After his foul and deflection lead to the goal being conceded by the free-kick, Mikel fired from close range after a corner bobbled off Ibrahimovic's head into his path to smash home, the final kick of an entertaining half as the European saga between the two super powers continued.
Resuming after the fifteen-minute halt, Hazard and Verratti's collision momentarily drew the sting out of the game, before an influx of chances would restore order with Chelsea beginning to target their quest on preserving the current scoreline with the precious away goal.
Kevin Trapp was as potent as ever to thwart Diego Costa on the break after Willian surged through on a counter, although that would be little compared to the shift of input provided by the French. Marquinhos threatened with a low cross while Di Maria shot straight at Courtois, followed by a tame yet alerting counter which saw Costa again denied by Trapp.
Chelsea would have their flurries but it continued to become a case of holding out against the French Champions - they would crack soon enough.
A clinical finish by Edinson Cavani would put Paris back in the lead after a period of being locked out by the Blues. Ibrahimovic sent Cavani down the edge of the area to slot it past Courtois at the near post and give the hosts a lead they would hold on to for the rest of the game.