Chants mar Tottenham triumph
Thu, 14 Mar 2013 21:30:00
Fernando Torres scored then missed a penalty for Chelsea as they turned around their tie against Steaua Bucharest with a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge to seal a 3-2 aggregate triumph and reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
Juan Mata cancelled out Steaua's 1-0 first-leg lead in the 33rd minute after a neat one-two with Ramires, only for the visitors to level things up on the stroke of half-time when Vlad Chiriches poked home from close range after a goal-line scramble.
Blues captain John Terry made it 2-2 on the night when he skipped past Steaua defender Lukas Szukala to get on the end of Juan Mata's free-kick from 20 yards with a bullet header, then Torres sealed Chelsea's progression 20 minutes from time but could not add to his haul as he skied a penalty late on after a foul on Eden Hazard.
It was Raul Rusescu's penalty which handed Steaua the advantage at the end of the first leg and the striker nearly doubled their overall lead after 12 minutes. John-Obi Mikel dithered over a clearance and Cristian Tanase stole the ball before finding Rusescu, who breached the offside trap before his shot was saved by Petr Cech.
After a quick Mata free-kick was held by Ciprian Tatarusanu, Steaua captain Alexandru Bourceanu fired a 30-yard warning shot narrowly wide and Cech saved from Tanase, who was causing Terry, in particular, problems with his pace.
When the hosts took the direct route it paid off. 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 before Mata and Hazard crafted an opening, only for the Belgian's shot to be saved. Chelsea still 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. The set-piece was played to the near post and a scramble ensued inside the six-yard box, with Tanase's shot smartly saved by Cech, who could do nothing about the rebound as Chiriches fired into the roof of the net.
Chelsea needed two goals in the second half and the first came after Cornel Rapa fouled Hazard and Mata delivered the resulting free-kick 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, whose most recent prior strike was at Brentford in the FA Cup, 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. Fortunately for the hosts he had already done enough to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
The 26-year-old left-back made two appearances for the Cherries after moving to Dean Court last month.
But with Wayne Bridge missing Tuesday night's defeat at Barnsley with a hamstring injury, Painter has been recalled as defensive cover.
He will be available for selection when Albion host derby rivals Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Spurs lost 4-1 after extra-time on the night but progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.
However, much of the aftermath to the thrilling encounter will surround what action governing body UEFA will take against Inter after racism seemingly reared its ugly head on Thursday night.
Monkey chants appeared to be aimed at several Tottenham players, notably goalscorer Emmanuel Adebayor, while a fan was seen with an inflatable banana.
It is not the first occasion Spurs have had problems against Italian sides this season.
Lazio were fined for racist chanting in their Group J tie at White Hart Lane in September and were reprimanded again for racist behaviour in November's return game.