London - Chelsea led a trio of English clubs into the Europa League
quarter-finals on Thursday after Tottenham Hotspur survived a thrilling
Inter Milan fight back to advance on away goals and Newcastle United got a
Goals from Juan Mata, John Terry and Fernando Torres, who also missed a
penalty, put European champions Chelsea through 3-1 on the night and 3-2
on aggregate after visiting Steaua Bucharest's Vlad Chiriches equalised
on the stroke of halftime.
Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor pounced in extra time to score a vital
away goal in their 4-1 second-leg defeat at the San Siro as they scraped
past three-time European champions Inter after the nail-biting tie
ended 4-4 on aggregate.
Newcastle United joined their Premier League rivals when Papiss Cisse
headed the winning goal against big-spending Anzhi Mackhachkala with the
last action of the game to take them through 1-0 after a goalless first
Another wealthy Russian side, 2008 Uefa Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg,
also went out to Basle 2-1 on aggregate despite a 1-0 win on the night
after they had a late penalty saved against the Swiss team, who played
the second half with 10 men.
Rubin Kazan fared better than their compatriots as they saw off Levante
2-0 in extra time to end Spanish interest in this season's competition.
Lazio's Libor Kozak scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart
for a 5-1 aggregate victory as they kept Italian hopes alive with a
place in Friday's quarterfinal draw.
Fenerbahce drew 1-1 with Viktoria Plzen to go through 2-1 on aggregate
after a narrow first-leg victory in the Czech Republic and former
Europan champions Benfica are also in the last eight thanks to a 3-2 win
at Bordeaux for a 4-2 aggregate success.
But it was Inter's stirring comeback, spoiled by lacklustre Tottenham's
vital away goal, and Chelsea's second-half display to see off spirited
former European champions Steaua that lit up a fascinating night of
Europa League action.
Spain striker Torres led the way for Chelsea in a rousing second half by
scoring a sublime goal, his second in 19 games, and then having to deal
with a bloody nose before playing on and striking a late penalty
against the bar.
The way Torres and his teammates battled was typical of Chelsea at
present said keeper Petr Cech in the wake of their recovery in an FA Cup
sixth round tie at Manchester United.
"We are at the stage where every game is a final," Cech told ITV. "When
it went to 1-1 (against Steaua) we had to score twice but at the weekend
we managed to get (back from) a 2-0 deficit at Old Trafford so we
believed we would get the goals.
"Fernando was working hard and he took his chance well. It's a pity the
penalty didn't go in for him but we scored the three goals we needed and
Tottenham were lucky to continue their European quest after they let
Inter come back at them following in-form Gareth Bale's masterclass in
the first leg when he scored in a 3-0 win.
"We don't do it the easy way... well done lads," Bale, who was suspended
for the Italian trip, wrote on Twitter after Spurs secured a last eight
berth by the skin of their teeth.
Inter went into the match after being outplayed in last week's first leg
in London but strikes from Antonio Cassano, Rodrigo Palacio and a
William Gallas own goal brought them level on aggregate against a
shell-shocked Tottenham side.
However, Adebayor, subjected to racist abuse by Inter fans including
monkey chants and the waving of plastic bananas, got a vital goal when
he slid the ball past Samir Handanovic in the 96th after Mousa Dembele's
shot was parried by the keeper.
Inter levelled the aggregate score with 10 minutes of extra time
remaining when Ricardo Alvarez headed in a Cassano cross but twice Uefa
Cup winners Spurs held on to progress.
"We have learned massively in these two ties, against Lyon and Inter,
and it's a great experience for me, the players and the club," said
Spurs manager Andre-Villas Boas.
Asked about the racist abuse directed at Adebayor, he added: "It's a
very sensitive situation. "It was very easy to hear the chanting so I'm
sure Uefa will act on it. It's very difficult for Inter Milan because it
has happened before."
Newcastle's progress was equally nervy and, despite a numerical
advantage when Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez was sent off after 55 minutes, his
fellow Moroccan Mbark Boussoufa hit the bar with a late free kick.
The miss proved costly as Cisse's headed finish from an inch-perfect
Sylvain Marveaux cross sparked wild scenes of celebration at St. James'
"I think we've put out one of the best teams in the competition," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
The English teams' Europa League success contrasts with their failure in
the Champions League which will not feature any when the draw is made
for both competitions on Friday.
Zenit's Roman Shirokov saw his 86th minute spot kick saved by Basle
keeper Yann Sommer as they failed to level the aggregate score at 2-2
after Basle had Marcelo Diaz sent off at the end of the first period for
a second yellow.
Axel Witsel got Zenit back into the tie with a close range header on the
half-hour but the Swiss side's 2-0 home win from last week's first leg,
when they scored twice in the last seven minutes, was enough to see
them through to the last eight.
"We played a great game and should have won by a much bigger margin,"
said disgruntled Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti, who has been under
pressure to resign after a string of poor results.