Chelsea progress to UEFA Europa League semi finals despite 3-2 loss to Rubin Kazan in Moscow.
Chelsea became the first club to qualify for the semi-finals of this season’s Europa League on Thursday despite losing 3-2 to Rubin Kazan in the second leg of their quarter-final tie.
The London club go through 5-4 on aggregate after winning 3-1 in last week’s first leg and remain on course to win the Europa League a year after triumphing in the Champions League.
Thursday’s match was played on the artificial surface at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, 800 kilometres west of Rubin’s home in Tatarstan, because UEFA ruled the Russian club’s own pitch to be in unfit condition.
Chelsea fans will forever associate the Luzhniki with their team’s painful penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final, although this occasion had a very different feel to it, with the 80,000-capacity venue barely a quarter full.
The Premier League side got off to a glorious start, taking the lead in the fourth minute when Fernando Torres — who netted a brace in the first leg — lobbing into an empty net as Rubin ‘keeper Sergei Ryzhikov came racing out of his area.
Rubin were given hope when Spanish defender Ivan Marcano headed in a cross from compatriot Pablo Orbaiz six minutes into the second half, but Victor Moses soon restored Chelsea’s lead on the night, playing a one-two with Ramires and then curling a shot into the net from 15 yards.
That goal left the Russians needing to score four times without reply to rescue the tie.
Captain Gokdeniz Karadeniz did pull one back before Bebras Natcho converted a penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta was harshly penalised for a foul on Aleksandr Ryazantsev in the box.
That allowed Rubin to win the game on the night, but Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was pleased to be in the semi-final draw.
“The scoreline doesn’t matter too much. We did a professional job and I am really pleased with the players,” he told ESPN television.
“Playing on this pitch and in that atmosphere was not easy, but the main thing for us was to do job.”
The remaining quarter-final second legs will be played later on Thursday, with Newcastle United hoping to recover a 3-1 first-leg deficit when they host Benfica, Tottenham Hotspur facing Basel in Switzerland after a 2-2 draw in London last week, and Fenerbahce defending a 2-0 lead against Lazio in Rome.