Chelsea vs. Steaua Bucuresti
The Champions of Europe had a bad game in Romania, having lost 1-0 to Steaua, but were determined to erase that defeat as they prepared to host the same team in the second leg. Steaua, in the same manner, would have to be looking to score away goals in order to progress. It was to be a crucial game for both teams.
Chelsea started their game better and faster, looking to score early and keep Steaua quiet, with attempts coming in from 11 minutes. Steaua, however, did not just sit back and try to defend as they were also trying to create something for themselves. Cech had to make his first save in the 13th minute when Rusescu tried to get his team an away goal.
Attempts from both teams, who had both lined up strong squads for this match, kept coming in, and it was Chelsea who managed to produce something first. Half an hour into the game, Chelsea’s 24-year-old Spanish International, Juan Mata, produced a beautiful goal facilitated by Ramires to level things between the two teams on aggregate. Tatarusanu had tried to save, but had failed, to the delight of the home crowd.
The home side were even more confident now, but the away side weren’t about to give up. A poor attempt to clear by Chelsea allowed Chiriches to finish what Tanase had started near the Chelsea goal and hit the ball into the roof of the net, putting his side ahead on aggregate.
Chelsea knew they had to score at least 2 more goals in the second half, and, after some good football, managed to get a second through a strong header from their captain, John Terry, assisted by a Juan Mata corner. Chelsea had to score one more to prevent their visitors from going through on away goals at their expense.
A strong attack by both teams continued, until Chelsea finally had their third with 20 minutes still to go, when Fernando Torres managed to collect a fine pass from Hazard and shoot past Tatarusanu. Chelsea now looked to win the game by a good margin when they were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute, but Fernando Torres hit the woodwork, leaving things as they were. Chelsea worked for another one, but it wasn’t going to happen and things ended at just that: Chelsea 3-1 Steaua.
Statistic-wise, Chelsea had a total of 13 attempts against their visitors’ 7. Chelsea had better chances and more possession (66% against 34%). The two goalkeepers made 5 saves each. 4 yellow cards (2-a-side) were issued between the two teams. No players were sent off during this game.
Rafael Benitez an Laurentiu Reghecampf lined up the following squads:
Chelsea Starting XI
Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Terry (c), Cole, Ramires, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Juan Mata, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Bertrand, Lampard, Moses and Benayoun
Steaua Starting XI
Tatarusanu, Szukala, Latovlevici, Chiriches, Pintilli, Chipciu, Bourceanu (c), Rusescu, Popa, Tanase, Rapa
Subs: Stanca, Gardos, Filip, Prepelita, Iancu, Leandro Tatu, and Adi Sobrinho
Final Score: Chelsea* 3-1 Steaua Bucuresti (Agg: 3-2)
Juan Mata 34′, Terry 58′, Torres 71′ | Chirices 45+1′
Having eliminated Steaua, Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Rubin Kazan of Russia as their opponents according to the draw held on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this match at home and the second leg away.
Fenerbahce SK vs. Viktoria Plzen
The first leg of this game had been very tough for both sides, more so Plzen, who had to overcome the 1-0 deficit in order to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. Fenerbahce had been tough enough opponents for Vrba and his men, so playing them at home would be even tougher and would demand more for the Czech side who still had a lot to do.
The game started well for the visitors as they looked to score early and even things up, but the hosts started to pick up as well, turning this match into a 50/50 game all the way until the final minutes of the first half. What was to be the only goal of the game for the home side came in the 44th minute from Fenerbahce substitute Salih Ucan (who had come on for Mehmet Topal 9 minutes earlier), with an assist from Pavel Horvath. All Fenerbahce had to do now was hold on for the next 45 minutes.
The second half was better for Plzen, who started stronger and more confident knowing that they still had a chance to win on away goals. Their first one (and what was to be their only one) came in the 61st from Darida, assisted by Kovarik. This goal brought the visitors some hope but the stubborn Fenerbahce defense (and the woodwork just 5 minutes later) prevented them from winning the game on away goals and on aggregate. The last 20 minutes were intense but it was Fenerbahce who managed to only just go through.
Statistic-wise, the visitors had a total of 14 attempts against 11 for the hosts. Both teams had the same number of decent chances, and both goalkeepers were kept busy. A total of 4 yellow cards was issued between the two teams; the home side picking up 1 and the rest going to the visitors. No players were sent off during this game.
Aykut Kocaman and Pavel Vrba lined up the following squads:
Fenerbahce Starting XI
Demirel (c), Irtegun, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Cristian, Sahin, Erkin, Sow, Topal, Kuyt
Subs: Gonuk, Kaldirim, Krasic, Senturk, Ucan, and Korkmaz
Plzen Starting XI
Kozacik, Limbersky, Reznik, Prochazka, Clsovsky, Darida, Kovarik, Kolar, Bakos, Rajtoral, Horvath
Subs: Pavlik, Hejda, Zeman, Adamov, Duris, Fillo, and Tecl
Final Score: Fenerbahce SK* 1-1 Viktoria Plzen (Agg: 2-1)
Salih Ucan 44′ | Darida 61′
Having eliminated Plzen, Fenerbahce are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Lazio of Italy as their opponents, as announced in the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.
Written by Ange Marline