Europa League Round of 16 First Leg Review: Part 4

Steaua Bucuresti vs. Chelsea

Steaua Bucuresti vs. ChelseaThe Champions of Europe traveled to Romania on the back of an important win against West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League, meaning they would be confident having eliminated a strong side in Sparta Prague. Their hosts and current league leaders (Romanian Liga 1), Steaua Bucuresti, also went into this game on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win against Gaz Metan Medias in the Liga 1 the previous weekend. They had also made a great comeback against AFC Ajax in the Round of 32, making them the only side to have gone through to the round of 16 having lost in the first leg, and so they had every reason to be confident.

This match started well for the home side, who had their first corner inside only the first minute, their second in the sixth, and their third in the thirteenth, all before Chelsea even had their first. They were in control of the game for most of the first half as Chelsea struggled to settle into the game. Chelsea had their first attempt in the 24th minute when Branislav Ivanovic had a chance to direct a Frank Lampard corner into the net. Oscar had a chance to get an important away goal for his side, but failed as well. What was to be the only goal of the match came in the 34th minute when Ryan Bertrand was penalized for a pull on Raul Rusescu inside the penalty area to earn Steaua a penalty. The Romanian 24-year-old made no mistakes as he drove a strong shot past Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal to put his side ahead. Yossi Benayoun was determined to clear Steaua’s goal by scoring one for his side, but Tatarusanu didn’t think so. Fernando Torres also missed the target as Chelsea desperately looked for an equalizer that didn’t come.

The second half was even more challenging for the defending Champions of Europe as their hosts came out stronger and tougher. Laurentiu’s decision to put Prepelita on for Pintilli was responded to by a Rafael decision to put a fresh Juan Mata on for an off-target Benayoun, strengthening the away side’s attack. Eden Hazard had a chance to get an equalizer for his side, but missed the target and was replaced by Marko Marin just minutes later. Things continued to be tight all the way to the last minute, and Steaua would have a advantage when they would head to West London for the second leg the following week.

Statistic-wise, Steaua had a total of 8 attempts, while Chelsea had 9. The home side had overall less possession than their English visitors (48% and 52% respectively). A total of 3 yellow cards were issued; 1 going to the home side, and 2 to their visitors. No players were sent off during this game.

Laurentiu Reghecampf and Rafael Benitez lined up the following squads:

Steaua Starting XI

Tatarusanu, Szukala, Latovlevici, Rapa, Chiriches, Rusescu, Chipciu, Bourceanu (c), Pintilli, Popa, Tanase

Subs: Stanca, Filip, Iancu, Sobrinho, Prepelita, Tatu, and Gardos

Chelsea Starting XI

Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry (c), Bertrand, Lampard, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Torres, Benayoun

Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Ferreira, Cahill, Mata, Marin, and Azpilicueta

Final Score: Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 Chelsea

Rusescu 34′ (pen)

Viktoria Plzen vs. Fenerbahce SK

Viktoria Plzen vs. Fenerbahce SKFenerbahce traveled to the Czech Republic on the back of a defeat to Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig just 4 days earlier, but they were still as confident as they were supposed to be, having failed to concede while playing away in their previous 3 fixtures. The home side would go into this game on the back of a draw against Banik Ostrava in the Gambrinus Liga the previous weekend. They were also on a 7-game winning run at home in Europe this season, so they would also be very confident going into this game.

The away side started stronger and quicker with their passes, but the home side were playing very comfortably and were able to keep their opponents from doing too much. Kozacik had to make his first save after Fenerbahce had started to threaten but his side weren’t giving their visitors a good time either. The away side, however, were dominating at this stage and so Irtegun and co. had to be very awake. The home side finally got something for their hard work, but Rajtoral hit the woodwork, leaving this very tight between the two teams. Plzen desperately tried to get something before the end of the first half with decent attempts from Horvath and Darida, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

The same game continued in the second half, but the away side seemed hungrier, and this continued for the remainder of the game. Sow, who had been very good on the night made a decent attempt, forcing a Kozacik save once again. Bakos made way for Tecl as the home side became more and more vulnerable. It was all 50/50 from there until Fenerbahce’s break came at just 9 minutes to full time through Webo, having picked up the pieces off a Sow attempt that Kozacik had saved. The away side got just what they had wanted and the Czech side was stunned.

Statistic-wise, Fenerbahce had a bigger slice of the possession (55% against 45%) and overall more attempts (18 against 6), meaning that Kozacik had to make more saves (7) than his Turkish counterpart, Demirel (0) in the Fenerbahce goal. Only 1 yellow card was issued during this game, and it went to the Turkish side. No players were sent off during this match.

Pavel Vrba and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

Plzen Starting XI

Kozacik, Reznik, Prochazka, Rajtoral, Clsovsky, Kolar, Horvath (c), Darida, Kovarik, Bakos, Duris

Subs: Pavlik, Koncal, Zeman, Adamov, Tecl, Fillo, and Hejda

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Volkan Demirel (c), Irtegun, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Cristian, Sahin, Webo, Sow, Kuyt

Subs: Gunok, Kesimal, Ucan, Sentur, Simsek, Erkin, and Topuz

Final Score: Victoria Plzen 0-1 Fenerbahce

Webo 81′

Written by Ange Marline