Chelsea progress to Europa League semi-finals

Posted on by SoccerPunter

It was an emotional night for English Premier League supporters as Tottenham and Newcastle crash out of Europa League.

Ten-man Tottenham lost through penalty shoot-out to Basel. They were clearly struggling without Gareth Bale who was suffering an injury.

Champions League 2011-2012 winners Chelsea lost 3-2 to Rubin Kazan last night but still made it to the Europa League semi-finals after a 5-4 aggregate scoreline. Chelsea had won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the quarter-finals.

Chelsea players were not used to playing on the artificial surface at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, a neutral ground because UEFA ruled the Rubin Kazan own pitch to be in unplayable condition.

Chelsea fans will forever associate the Luzhniki with their team’s painful penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final, although this occasion had a very different feel to it, with the 80,000-capacity venue barely a quarter full.

The Premier League side got off to a glorious start, taking the lead in the fourth minute when Fernando Torres — who netted a brace in the first leg — lobbing into an empty net as Rubin ‘keeper Sergei Ryzhikov came racing out of his area.

Rubin were given hope when Spanish defender Ivan Marcano headed in a cross from compatriot Pablo Orbaiz six minutes into the second half, but Victor Moses soon restored Chelsea’s lead on the night, playing a one-two with Ramires and then curling a shot into the net from 15 yards.

That goal left the Russians needing to score four times without reply to rescue the tie.

Captain Gokdeniz Karadeniz did pull one back before Bebras Natcho converted a penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta was harshly penalised for a foul on Aleksandr Ryazantsev in the box.

That allowed Rubin to win the game on the night, but Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was pleased to be in the semi-final draw.

“The scoreline doesn’t matter too much. We did a professional job and I am really pleased with the players,” he told ESPN television.

“Playing on this pitch and in that atmosphere was not easy, but the main thing for us was to do job.”

The remaining quarter-final second legs will be played later on Thursday, with Newcastle United hoping to recover a 3-1 first-leg deficit when they host Benfica, Tottenham Hotspur facing Basel in Switzerland after a 2-2 draw in London last week, and Fenerbahce defending a 2-0 lead against Lazio in Rome.

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