Chelsea advance to Europa semis

Fernando Torres (right) gave Chelsea an early goal.
Fernando Torres (right) gave Chelsea an early goal.

Chelsea sealed their place in the Europa League semi-finals despite a careless second-leg defeat against Rubin Kazan in Russia today.

Leading 3-1 from the first leg, the Blues scored a vital early away goal through Fernando Torres’s deft lob. Ivan Marcano’s header gave Rubin hope before Victor Moses fired in to leave the hosts needing four more goals. Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Bebras Natcho’s penalty provided a late scare, but Chelsea held on to progress.

The Blues never looked in any danger of being eliminated during a comfortable first-half performance after Torres’s early opener. Chelsea are bidding to become only the fourth side to win all three of Uefa’s major club competitions. The Blues, who won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998, plus last season’s Champions League, would emulate Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich.

But a contrasting display after the break, characterised by nervous defending on a synthetic pitch, denied Rafael Benitez’s side the luxury of a straightforward passage into the last four.

Rubin capitalised on Chelsea’s failure to deal with a series of high balls into their penalty area and it gives interim boss Benitez plenty to think about ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

Yet they survived any further damage after Natcho’s spot-kick made it 3-2 to the home side, as the much-maligned Benitez remains on course to win two trophies for the Blues. (BBC)

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