Blues through after second-leg comeback

Chelsea 3 Steaua Bucharest 1 (Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate)

Fernando Torres fired Chelsea into the Europa League quarter-finals in a frenetic encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Juan Mata wiped out the one-goal deficit from the first leg but an impressive Steaua snatched an away goal seconds before the break.

Rafael Benitez’s side took charge after the restart and captain John Terry marked his return to the side with a trademark header to level the tie on aggregate.

Torres produced a classy finish to ensure Chelsea’s qualification for the last eight, although he could then have eased the tension of the final few minutes but hit the bar with a late penalty.

In the end, Chelsea were deserved winners but for the first half-hour they were denied the chance to build any kind of rhythm as a busy and disciplined Steaua midfield snapped at their heels.

They also created chances on the break, with Raul Rusescu springing the offside trap before being denied by Blues keeper Petr Cech’s fine one-handed save, and skipper Alexandru Bourceanu firing a dipping shot wide.

A subdued Chelsea were restricted to a John Obi Mikel effort from distance, which warmed the hands of visiting keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

However, the toil and endeavour eventually told on the Steaua midfield, and gaps began to appear which were ruthlessly exploited as Chelsea went in front.

Mata exchanged passes with Ramires and the Spaniard held off a defender before sliding the ball home.

A revived Chelsea began to dominate, with chief tormenter Eden Hazard forcing Tatarusanu into a good block after wriggling between two defenders.

But they proved their own worst enemy at the other end of the pitch as Torres and Mikel failed to deal with a corner and Vlad Chiriches lashed into the roof of the net from close range.

That left the home side needing to score twice after the break and Terry got them off to a perfect start when he guided home a header from Mata’s free-kick.

Steaua weren’t the same attacking force in the second half, although Cech needed to claw away a decent effort from Alexandru Chipciu.

Instead, a vibrant Chelsea scored the crucial third when Mata and Hazard combined to tee up Torres, who kept his head to net his first home goal since the 8-0 drubbing of Aston Villa before Christmas.

However, he squandered the chance to put the tie beyond doubt after Hazard was felled in the box, striking the top of the bar with the resulting spot-kick.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Oscar, Mata (Moses 89), Hazard (Benayoun 90); Torres.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Bertrand, Lampard.



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