Rubin Kazan 3-2 Chelsea: Early Torres Strike Helps Seal Euro Semi Spot
Fernando Torres helped put Chelsea in the semi-final of the Europa League with a 5-4 aggregate win, despite losing 3-2 in the second leg in Russia last night.
Fernando Torres helped put Chelsea in the semi-final of the Europa League with an early goal, despite being on the losing side in Russia.
Torres set the Blues on their way to a 5-4 aggregate victory with a goal inside five minutes. Rubin Kazan equalised through Ivan Marcano on 51 minutes but Victor Moses’ strike minutes later put the visitors back in front and set them up for a comfortable final half hour.
But Rubin would not give Rafael Benitez’s side such an easy time and with nothing to lose the Russians ensured a nervy finish to the game. Gokdeniz Karadeniz squared things up on the night just after the hour mark and Chelsea were beginning to sweat when Bibras Natkho converted a penalty on 75 minutes to give Rubin the lead.
The Russians, despite their efforts, still needed two goals to clinch the tie but it was the current Champions League holders who booked their place in the last four of the Europa League. With one eye firmly on Sunday’s FA Cup semi final with Manchester City, Benitez as expected sent out a changed line-up to that which came from a goal down to beat Sunderland on Saturday. John Terry was restored to the starting XI while there were places for Paulo Ferreira, Frank Lampard, Yossi Benayoun, Victor Moses and Torres. There was also a start for 18 year old Nathan Ake, signed from Dutch side Feyenoord last year and making only his third Chelsea appearance.
Torres, having endured another frustrating season with the Blues, will be keen to stake a claim for the end of season run in, not least for the notable cup semi finals on the horizon. And he did his claim no harm inside 5 minutes, chipping over the onrushing Rubin keeper with ease after Lampard had thread a superb through-ball for the Spaniard. The positive start was as much as Benitez could have asked for, and with a 3 goal aggregate lead and an away goal, the Blues looked to make passage ino the semi finals very easy indeed.
Although the tie may have ended very differently had Rubin not spurned an early chance before Torres broke the deadlock with such ease. Roman Eremenko was the guilty party after a superb pass put the Russian through but his shot was well blocked by Terry. Chelsea looked to conserve as much energy as possible ahead of Sunday’s huge semi-final clash at Wembley, set up to soak as much Rubin pressure as necessary before breaking on the counter attack.
But the Chelsea that turned out for the second half in Moscow looked anything but the composed XI that started the game and with just six minutes of the second half played Rubin had equalised. And it was well deserved from the Russian’s point of view, who will argue that there chances of progression in the competition were hampered by UEFA’s decision to switch venue from Central Stadium to the Luzhniki Stadium. Pablo Orbaiz swung in the corner and fellow Spaniard Marcano was at hand to head home, giving the Russian side a glimmer of hope.
But Chelsea’s response was swift and just as quickly as Rubin’s hopes took flight, Moses ensured they fell back down to earth. The forward received a slick pass from Ramires and promptly curled in Chelsea’s second, but Rubin were not to feel sorry for themselves and Karadeniz did well to out-jump Ake for the home side’s second equalised on the hour mark, heading from a deep Cristian Ansaldi cross.
Rubin then began to pen Chelsea into their own half, with the visitors failing to provide much in the way of resistance. Feeling that the tie was effectively over, Chelsea were happy to let Rubin attack with little in the way of a response and with 15 minutes left to play, Aleksandr Ryazantsev was felled by Cesar Azpilicueta with the referee pointing to the spot.
Natcho duly dispatched the penalty and ensured a nervy end to the quarter final. Rubin still needed two goals if they were to progress in Chelsea’s stead but the Blues ranks held firm and saw out a 5-4 aggregate win despite losing on the night.
At this stage of the season and in such competitions, the performance is secondary to the result and Benitez will be delighted that his side are still battling on two fronts with regards to cup competitions. With the Spaniard almost certain to leave come the end of the season, Benitez will be keen to mark his short reign with at least one trophy. Two trophy’s might just please a couple of Chelsea fans.
If you missed the game or simply want to relive the action, you can watch the goals from last nights game here.
What did you think of the game last night? Get involved in the comments section below.
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