Fernando Torres scored the decisive goal and then missed a penalty late on as Chelsea emerged 3-1 winners on Thursday night, 3-2 on aggregate, against Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge.
The West London outfit, beaten 1-0 in the first leg, got ahead on the night through a Juan Mata goal. Vlad Chiriches however wiped out the deficit as he stabbed the ball in from a corner kick just at the stroke of halftime to grant the visitors the lead again in the tie.
Needing two more goals to advance into the next round, skipper John Terry led the Blues comeback as he nodded the ball home in the 58th minute, before Fernando Torres tucked in the clincher to see his side through.
The visitors threatened to claim an early lead after a mix up between John Obi Mikel and Terry sent Raul Rusescu one-on-one with the keeper. Petr Cech though denied the first-leg goal scorer, tipping his shot away towards safety.
It was Mata who opened the scoring on the night in the 34th minute. The Spanish International stormed forward with the ball from the half-line before feeding the ball to Ramires who picked up Mata inside the box with a return pass. The midfielder’s right footed attempt took a deflection of goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, but managed to end up in the back of the net.
The visitors required an away goal to leave Chelsea in need of two to qualify, and they got that through Chiriches. The Blues failed to clear a corner-kick just at the edge of first half, with Cristian Tanase drawing a fine save from Cech from close range. However, the rebound fell to Chiriches who made no mistake, dispatching the ball into the roof of the net.
Terry halved the Blues second half target as he restored Chelsea’s lead again on the night. Mata’s searching cross from a free-kick on the left flank found the defender totally unmarked, allowing him to calmly head the ball into the left corner.
Buoyed up by the goal, Chelsea turned on the heat at the Romanian team, and were rewarded for their attacking display 19 minutes from time. Eden Hazard fed a lovely pass to Torres inside the box, whose low left-footed strike was enough to beat the goalkeeper at the far corner.
Having gotten ahead again on aggregate score, Torres had the chance to seal the affair in the closing stages, as the hosts were awarded a penalty after Eden Hazard was tripped inside the box. But the Spaniard hit the frame of the goal from the ensuing spot-kick.
Nonetheless, the missed penalty did not alter the outcome as Chelsea saw out the remaining few minutes to register their place in the quarterfinals, where they have been drawn against Ruban Kazan.
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