Chelsea 3 Steaua Bucharest 1 (Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate)
Fernando Torres fired Chelsea into the quarter-finals of the Europa League but also missed a penalty as last season’s Champions League winners overcame Steaua Bucharest in the last-16 clash at Stamford Bridge.
Torres’ strike was the £50million striker’s second goal in 19 games and his reward was a nosebleed sustained soon afterwards.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was always confident the Blues would see off Steaua. He said: “It’s a big win because we wanted to qualify for the next round.
“When they made it 1-1 we knew we’d have to score twice but at the weekend we made up a two-goal deficit (against Manchester United in the FA Cup) at Old Trafford, so we knew we could score the goals.”
Cech offered praise for Torres.
“He was working hard and took his chance great,” Cech said. “It was a pity the penalty didn’t go in for him but the important thing is we scored three goals so we are happy.”
Chelse took the lead on 33 minutes when Mata picked up the ball inside the Steaua half in the right channel and ran at his marker. The Spaniard played the ball inside to Ramires, who continued running at the defence before playing a return pass.
While Torres moved out of the way, Mata used his body to shield the ball from Iasmin Latovlevici and his shot squirmed in under Tatarusanu.
Torres shot narrowly wide soon after but Chelsea could not relax, though, as Ashley Cole had to be alert to halt Adrian Popa after David Luiz had given the ball away.
From the resulting corner and the last move of the first half, Steaua restored their advantage, with Tanase’s shot smartly saved by Cech, who could do nothing about the rebound as Chiriches fired high into the net.
Chelsea needed two goals in the second half and the first came after Cornel Rapa fouled Hazard.
Mata delivered towards Terry. The skipper’s powers may have been reduced by age and niggling injury, but when left unmarked he remains a potent force and his header from 10 yards went in off the post.
Cech saved a dipping shot from Alexandru Chipciu before Mata set up the third goal Chelsea needed. He cut in from the right, Hazard stepped over the left-footed cross and Torres picked up the ball.
The striker stepped around Lukasz Szukata and netted low across goal.
The World Cup winner lost his footing in the area soon after under the challenge of Szukata, emerging with a bleeding nose, before shooting narrowly wide.
Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Hazard was caught by Bourceanu. Torres stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way – but his shot hit the top of the crossbar.
CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Hazard (Benayoun 90), Mata (Moses 90), Oscar, Torres.
STEAUA BUCURESTI: Tatarusanu, Rapa (Adi 83), Szukala, Chiriches, Latovlevici, Bourceanu, Pintilii, Popa, Chipciu, Tanase (Tatu 78), Rusescu.
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France).
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