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UEFA Europa League
March 15, 2013
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: S. Lannoy
• Attendance: 28817
J. Terry 58'
Fernando Torres 71'
Chelsea win Aggregate 3 - 2
V. Chiricheş 45'+
He persisted, though, and the tie was over regardless. Before the match, they knew they needed to score. At half-time, they knew they needed to score twice more. By full-time, they had done their job. Hardly vintage from Chelsea but they make the last eight and that showed great character. That's all from me, Tim Poole, folks. Thanks for reading during an absolutely cracking night of Europa League action. We hope to see you again soon!
Then, captain John Terry struck in the second half before Fernando Torres came into his own. The Spaniard put the Blues 3-1 up and ahead on aggregate. It is always a mixed bag with Mr Torres, however, and his penalty miss minutes later threatened to ruin an otherwise outstanding performance.
The first 45 minutes did not offer anything that convincing from the hosts but Juan Mata put them in the lead to change all that. Against the run of play, though, the visitors struck back on the stroke of half-time as Chiriches put them ahead in the tie.
It was fantastic in the end from Chelsea in yet another pulsating and captivating Europa League tie. There's often debate about the magic of the FA Cup and today it feels like this little European competition is also standing tall and showing the continent exactly what it has to offer.
GAME OVER! The referee blows his whistle and it is all over here at Stamford Bridge - much to the home side's relief.
90' + 3'
Benayoun makes a late appearance. As with Moses, his introduction probably has more to do with slowing the game down than adding any real impetus.
90' + 3'
CHANCE! The final seconds tick down and a fantastic run and cross from Torres sees Benayoun with a chance to put the game beyond doubt but his audacious back-heel floats just wide.
90' + 1'
Hazard stretches the play but is caught in possession and the Romanian side look to break straight away. Terry is on hand to clear once more, though.
We're into injury time here! Although Chelsea would probably prefer an immediate full-time whistle, the game ploughs on. Three minutes of added time are announced, while the visitors pump a long free kick into the area and Cech and Luiz suffer a clash of heads as they both rise to claim the same loose ball.
The Spaniard quickly reacts, however, and feeds Mikel inside the area. The Nigerian turns but has his shot blocked.
Missed PenaltyFernando Torres
NO! DENIED BY THE CROSSBAR! Torres, with the opportunity to clinch the tie, smashes his spot-kick against the bar!
Fantastic link-up play from Mata, Torres and Hazard results in the Belgian turning and being brought down in the area.
PENALTY TO CHELSEA!
Laurentiu Reghecampf looks for a change and brings on another striker. Clearly, the visitors will be going for broke in these last few minutes.
It's quiet here and you can really sense the tension. The home side, no doubt under strict orders from Rafael Benitez, are doing their best to keep the ball and not try anything too risky.
Meanwhile, Steaua fire in another shot from range but Cech is more than equal to it - although it did catch the stopper off his guard.
The visitors are holding onto possession well once again as they go in search for a late goal that would well and truly turn the tie. Rusescu ends up posing a threat on the edge of the area but attempts to take on one defender too many and Mikel clears.
Yellow CardAshley Cole
A chance for the away side as they threaten to spoil the Chelsea party. The ball is crossed in first from the right and then from the left. But, eventually, the danger passes.
Leandro Ângelo Martins
More superb play from Torres as he turns once, then once more and toepokes a clever finish just wide of the near post.
CHANCE! Oscar almost seals victory for the Blues. A dangerous run from the Brazilian midfielder results in a tight shooting opportunity from the left corner of the box. The finish is well-placed, but not quite good enough as it sails just wide-right of the Steaua goal.
Torres attacks! And he gets what he wants! This second half display from the forward has been superfluous. He piles the pressure on the Steaua right back and forces a corner. Immediately afterward, he goes off the pitch to change shirts - his previous one was bloodstained.
Things have - understandably - slowed down once more here. The home side are going through as things stand, but things are in a precarious state. A late goal from the visitors would really throw the Blues.
Real drama here at Stamford Bridge as Torres is involved again. The Spaniard takes a touch in the box and turns, only to be brought down thereafter. The referee waves away the penalty appeals, although Torres is still left nursing a bloody nose.
Hazard was instrumental once more but all credit must go to the Spaniard, who was calm and composed in taking his time in the box, turning and tucking away a very nicely taken finish.
GOAL!! IT'S TORRES!!!!
Yellow CardJohn Obi Mikel
The first booking for a home player today goes to Mikel.
We're back to the exceptionally slow and patient build-up play the hosts were demonstrating in the first-half. With just one goal needed, though, it may just work.
End to end stuff as the ball travels towards the Steaua box, before Cole is required to produce an important challenge back up the other end. Hazard then storms down the left until his threaded pass is stopped in the away penalty area.
If Luiz's free kick moments ago was ambitious - this was even moreso. A long ball towards Rusescu is attempted, but from about 70 yards away, it curls away for a Chelsea goal kick.
Play resumes and so does the Romanian. Terry launches the ball upfield and the home side look to up the ante in search for that vital third.
Popa is down on the field of play, here. Meanwhile, it's important to note that the visitors would still go through as things stand and another goal from the Romanian side would give the hosts an absolute mountain to climb.
IT DIPS! But it's saved. Great spin on the ball as the Brazilian defender decides to take the free kick and launches it towards the near post. The away keeper is barely troubled, however. Ambitious effort.
Luiz and Mata stand over a free kick around 35 yards out...
Pressure from the home side as Torres attempts to fire a shot away but is beaten to the ball by a Steaua defender inside the area.
Well this game has turned into a classic cup-tie. It's twisted and turned and there have been poor passages of play and great ones. All that matters now, though, is that Chelsea need one more goal for progression and the visitors are now back on the brink.
CHANCE! The Blues almost get that all important third as Tatarusanu denies a Hazard half-volley!
What a goal and who else but the skipper? The ensuing free kick was curled in and the former England captain rose and headed home. It was almost a carbon copy of last season's vital header in the Champions League against Napoli.
Yellow CardCornel Râpă
Patient passing has now earned them a free kick just to the left of the penalty area. It's another booking for the visitors as Rapa fails to legally deal with Hazard and brings the Belgian down.
GOAL! Terry leads by example and fires Chelsea into the lead on the night once more!
Possession has been more or less equal so far this half and the away side have enjoyed more productivity with the ball by far. Nonetheless, the Blues have earned themselves a throw deep inside the Steaua half.
Straight up the other end, the home side opt for some urgency but Oscar's cross floats along the ground and straight towards the away keeper. The pass can be described as tame at best.
Still, it won't help Chelsea, and nor will losing the ball in their own half. As they lose possession, the visitors push forward and end with Bourceanu - who was arguing with Mata moments earlier - having a shot at goal but fluffing his lines. Had he connected properly, this tie may have been put to bed.
Mata and Bourceanu - who challenged the Spaniard earlier to receive a booking - enter into debate over the tackle in question but end with a peaceful agreement and an arm around each other's shoulder. Good to see sportsmanship of that sort on the field of play.
It appears that the 15 minutes or so where the hosts were in control was simply a veil for an otherwise disjointed and unconvincing display. Terry attempts to inject some urgency - both with the ball and with his voice. So far, he has received nothing in return.
His side, meanwhile, are passing the ball around at the back as though they are the side in pole position. And worse - as soon as the ball enters the Steaua half, possession is lost.
Yellow CardAlexandru Bourceanu
A worrying sight as Mata begins to limp.
Another great run down the right from Popa - who has been instrumental thus far. He ends up sending a low cross into the Chelsea area but John Terry is on hand to clear.
The visitors look calm with the ball at their feet and, until they concede a second, they have every reason to be just that. Whether they even concede a second is doubtful at present.
The home side kick-off this second-half. Remember, they need two more goals at least to go through!
Stay with us for what promises to be a tense second half. We are guaranteed either real drama or real agony.
Will the home side be able to respond to the shock of conceding on the cusp of half-time? No doubt Benitez will have a few words to say at the break...
Things looked so straightforward but catastrophic defending at the near post saw the ball pinged back and forth before Chiriches reacted sharply to fire home. Now the Blues need two more goals to progress and extra-time is no longer a prospect.
And the half-time whistle has blown mere moments after that dramatic equaliser. After an uneasy half an hour from the hosts, a period of solid pressure saw them establish their dominance and take the lead. Yet, minutes later, it was third time lucky for the visitors as they smashed home from their third consecutive corner.
45' + 1'
GoalVlad Iulian Chiricheş
GOAL!! The Steaua pressure has led to a vital, vital away goal! What were the Chelsea defence doing? Real trouble at the front post and suddenly, all of their hard work from the opening 45 minutes is undone. Chiriches pops up and tucks away a finish from two yards amidst all the chaos.
And a third...
Cole and Popa round three leads to a second consecutive corner for the visitors.
Popa and Cole are at the centre of the action once again! The Romanian makes a blinding run down the right flank - all the way into the Chelsea box. The England left-back slides in and tackles the ball out for a corner, however.
There's now a drop-ball in the Steaua half. Popa takes it but Cole blocks it from a yard away, before the Romanian side sportingly play the ball back to he hosts.
It must be noted that the hosts aren't facing the Barcelonas or Real Madrids of this world, while an away goal would mean they need to score two more. Yet, at the moment, parity looks to have been restored and Chelsea's superiority all but demonstrated.
SAVE!! Hazard twists and turns his way into the penalty area and drives a ferocious strike towards goal. The away keeper is equal to the shot, but only just.
The hosts are well and truly on top now - and how goals change games. Chelsea now look dynamic, incisive and everything good under the sun.
Calm defending from Mikel and Luiz sees the ball exit the Chelsea box without any real danger. Hazard takes the ball straight up the other end in a quick counterattack but Ramires' pass inside the Steaua box gives possession away.
CHANCE! Torres flashes a shot from the edge of the area just wide to the right of the Steaua goal. Who played the ball into him? You guessed it: Mata.
Mata was rightly identified as the key man for the Blues before the game and he has proved himself once again with his 18th goal of the season in all competitions. What a player.
That opening goal looks to be vital for the home side. They are now confident and in full flow, having a corner to their name in an immediate attempt to double their lead.
GOAL!! Mata just about gets Chelsea over the line. It's 1-0 on the night and 1-1 on aggregate! Ramires shows what he is best at, playing a great one-two with the Spaniard and Mata, showing all of his craft, turns and smashes his shot at the visiting keeper. The shot stopper takes a touch and the ball also hits the post for good measure. But it crosses the line and the hosts have their breakthrough.
A not so surging run down the right-hand side from Torres sees the ball go off for a Steaua throw-in.
Whether they are being a tad too patient is another issue. With Rusescu's presence on the break, the Blues must be cautious. They have almost been caught out on several occasions already this half.
Hazard is forced to run all the way back to the halfway-line with the ball after incessant pressure from the Romanian defenders. Chelsea are still in possession, though, and are looking patiently for the breakthrough.
Evidence of Rafa Benitez's passing game - initially implemented at Valencia, then Liverpool - is clear for all to see at the Bridge. Nevertheless, the home side are lacking dynamism and incisiveness, while the visitors are closing them down effectively - just like last week's first leg.
They are calm in possession at the moment, though, and that is an improvement on the majority of this match so far.
At the minute, the home side are really struggling to impose themselves. Ashley Cole typifies their dilemma by hoofing a long ball - meant for Torres - off the pitch for a throw-in.
Rusescu has looked a threat so far today, displaying good movement and fabulous awareness. The Romanian forward scored the winner in the first leg - and has 18 domestic and four European goals to his name so far this term already.
Still no goals for the home side so far - and it is only thanks to a brilliant early save from Cech, who denied Rusescu, that the visitors are goalless so far today, as well.
Play has slowed down as Cesar Azpilicueta is down after a collision. He jogs off but looks a bit ruffled.
Mikel was first denied by a diving save, before his next strike from a similar range went just over. Now the hosts are starting to look more like a team, although Steaua have come straight back up the pitch with an intense period of pressure of their own.
CHANCE! Mikel comes close not once but twice from range after a period of intense Chelsea pressure. The Blues have looked like spectators at times so far today but this last minute has produced their best - with the Nigeria midfielder involved heavily on both occasions.
It is with palpable ease that the visitors are now keeping last season's European Champions off the ball. How different this season is from the last - and after another corner and shot at Cech, Steaua are looking favourites to get the tie's next goal - if there is one.
David Luiz starts an attacking move for the home side... And, it's over. Throw-in for the visitors. Disappointing from the hosts.
Another cracking effort from the visitors as the away skipper fires a long-range effort slightly wide of the mark. That makes two good chances to nothing in favour of the Romanians...
Having survived that early scare, the hosts are now passing their way back up the pitch - Rafa Benitez style. They have a free kick in a dangerous position as their reward. It is wasted in rather a hurry, though.
Suddenly, the away side have stamped their mark on proceedings. The one clearcut chance so far has gone their way, though - on reflection - it should really have been put away.
CHANCE! Against the run of play, it's for Steaua! A fantastic through ball catches every Chelsea defender off guard and Rusescu - through one on one - fires just wide after a great save from Petr Cech.
Hazard, Mata and, surprisingly, Torres have all been on top of their passing game so far. Just that decisive breakthrough in front of goal is all that's needed. Ramires could also do with being caught in possession less.
Wasted! A great passage of play from the home side is wasted by Ramires once more. But the hosts have continued to persist and have been able to really impose their quality so far, unlike in the first leg in the Romanian capital.
Very close for the hosts! Not quite close to a goal but had Jon Obi Mikel's threaded pass found Mata, it may well have been. His sublime through ball was not quite sublime enough, missing the Spaniard's feet by a mere couple of inches.
When on the ball, the away side have looked unambitious so far, seeming content to keep things tight. A free kick inside their own half is lobbed straight up the park and headed out for a goal kick to the hosts.
Ramires carelessly gives the ball away inside the away side's half. Things had looked promising in terms of a Chelsea attack but the visitors regained possession quickly and were able to quash the impending danger.
It has been a lively start so far here at the Bridge, with the hosts enjoying the vast majority of possession. Things look promising for Benitez's men at the moment.
Mata lofts another cross in and Torres falls to his feet after attempting a shot. Not quite an embarrassing fall, however. On this particular occasion, the Spanish striker should be commended for his effort on the stretch.
A quick note: Chelsea must win by two clear goals or more to progress within 90 minutes. A 1-0 win will force Extra Time - anything worse gifts the Romanian Premier League leaders progression at the expense of last season's Champions League victors.
Ramires drives forward and feeds Oscar, who lays it onto Azpilicueta and a series of lovely passes ensue. The ball ends up at the feet of Juan Mata - but the Spaniard sends his cross harmlessly wide to the right of the Steaua goal.
Fernando Torres - in for the cup-tied Demba Ba - and Hazard link-up early on but lose possession after one or two initially promising exchanges.
We are off... or not. The visitors kick-off but the referee blows his whistle and orders a retake. A moment later and we are properly on the way, however.
The players are out and the Chelsea faithful are in full voice. We are almost underway here!
Either way, it's game on in the capital soon enough - and this is the only place to be. Stay with us, action shortly!
The Blues will feel that if they play to their maximum ability tonight, they should have no problem. If they play like they did in the second half against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday, that may well be the case. If the Chelsea of the first leg turn up, however, the Bridge may be ringing with boos once again.
So with the teamsheets in and just 15 minutes or so until kick-off, it's all to play for tonight at Stamford Bridge. Incredibly, this last-16 second leg will be Chelsea's 52nd game of the season. Star man Eden Hazard has remarkably played in 49 of them.
The visitors, meanwhile, are lining up with an unchanged XI from the first leg: Tatarusanu; Latovlevici, Chiriches, Szukala, Rapa; Pintilii, Chipciu; Bourceanu, Tanase, Popa; Rusescu. Subs: Stanca, Gardos, Filip, Prepelita, Iancu, Leandro Tatu and Adi Sobrinho.
Tonight's team news for you, starting with the hosts: Cech; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Torres. And the Chelsea subs are: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Bertrand, Lampard, Benayoun and Moses.
Good evening all and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! play-by-play coverage of Chelsea against Steaua Bucharest in this make or break last 16 Europa League tie. I'm Tim Poole and I'll be taking you through proceedings; by the end of the night, we'll know if Rafael Benitez still has two trophies to realistically aim for, or just the FA Cup.
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