Skip to main content

Hit-and-miss Torres helps Chelsea into Europa League last eight

March 14, 2013 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Torres took center stage late on, scoring the winner before looking to the sky as he fired a late penalty against the crossbar
Torres took center stage late on, scoring the winner before looking to the sky as he fired a late penalty against the crossbar
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chelsea overturn first leg deficit to beat Steaua Bucharest and reach last eight
  • Inter Milan perform heroics but still exit against Spurs in thrilling 4-4 aggregate draw
  • Lazio, Benfica, Fenerbahce, Newcastle and two Russian sides also into quarters

(CNN) -- The story was the same that Fernando Torres has been writing ever since he joined Chelsea from Liverpool for the enormous sum of £50 million ($80 million) in January 2011.

Having secured Chelsea's passage to the Europa League quarterfinals by scoring the goal that ultimately knocked out Romania's Steaua Bucharest, Torres then had the chance to embellish a rare display of confidence with a late penalty.

Could this be the moment that the Spaniard, who looked unusually fired up after being denied what he thought was a penalty before then suffering a bloodied nose, finally began to feel settled at Stamford Bridge?

For those who have followed Torres' stop-start Blues career, the scenario was all too familiar as he crashed his 86th minute penalty against the crossbar - before looking to the heavens in despair.

That he was even prepared to take the penalty told its own story for a man who can boast World Cup and European Championship medals is not known for his prowess nor confidence from the spot.

Petr Cech: Refs need to be more open
Is there a crisis in English football?
Didi Hamann on beating AC Milan

Indeed, when he stepped up against Sunderland in a 3-1 league win at the Stadium of Light last December, the successful effort was -- remarkably -- the first he had ever scored in the Premier League since arriving in 2007.

With reports surfacing of Torres having turned down the chance to join big-spending Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, this seemed the chance for the striker, who celebrates his 29th birthday next week, to banish his woes and restore that absent friend of his: confidence.

But as the ball cannoned against the woodwork, the former Atletico Madrid star may have felt that there is an invisible barrier blocking his path at Chelsea.

"He was working hard and he took his chance great -- but obviously, it's a pity that the penalty didn't go in for him," said Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Nonetheless, Torres' strike in the 71st minute was enough to see Chelsea through on a tense night -- meaning the Blues stay on course to become the first side to win UEFA's top two club competitions in reverse order in successive seasons.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in the Romanian capital, Rafa Benitez's side leveled matters as Juan Mata squeezed the ball home after 33 minutes -- but Vlad Chiriches' equalizer (and away goal) on the stroke of half time gave the game a very different complexion.

Making a rare start after a season disrupted by knee problems, captain John Terry restored Chelsea's lead before Torres scored only his second goal in 20 games to register a 3-2 aggregate win.

The victory capped a productive night for English clubs as Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle managed to partly atone for the failure of their Premier League counterparts in the Champions League -- none of whom made it into the last eight.

Spurs were involved in the day's most dramatic game as they took a 3-0 lead to Inter Milan -- only to find themselves level on aggregate after 90 minutes as the rampant Italians scored through the lively Antonio Cassano, Rodrigo Palacio and a William Gallas own goal.

But six minutes into extra-time, the previously quiet Emmanuel Adebayor silenced Inter's fans when poking home a vital away goal.

Alex Ferguson: 'Racism still exists'
Jerome Valcke: Match-fixing a 'disease'

The Togolese boasted the unusual record of having scored for Spurs against Inter at the same San Siro stadium where he had netted for Arsenal against AC Milan -- a rare feat -- but this was a mere aside when Alvarez made it 4-4 on aggregate with ten minutes to go.

But Tottenham -- who badly missed the suspended Gareth Bale -- held on, to leave coach Andre Villas-Boas with the chance of repeating the 2011 Europa League triumph he achieved with Porto.

"We have learned massively from our last two ties in the competition, against Lyon and Inter," said the visibly-drained 35-year-old after the game.

While Spurs hung on for victory, Newcastle achieved theirs deep in stoppage time as Papiss Demba Cisse headed home -- at home -- against Anzhi Makhachkala for a 1-0 aggregate win.

Russian clubs had a mixed night with Rubin Kazan winning 2-0 at home against Levante, but only after extra-time, while Zenit St Petersburg went out against Basel, beaten 2-1 on aggregate after Roman Shirokov failed to score an 86th-minute penalty that would have taken the game into extra-time.

Elsewhere, Libor Kozak scored a hat-trick as Lazio completed a comfortable 5-1 aggregate win over Stuttgart with a 3-1 win in Rome while Portugal's Benfica, one of the strongest teams left in the Europa League, knocked out Bordeaux 4-2.

Fenerbahce joined Champions League quarterfinalists Galatasaray in extending Istanbul's interest in European competition as they completed a 2-1 aggregate win over Czech side Viktoria Plzen.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT