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Blues do enough in Moscow

Blues do enough in Moscow
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Chelsea became the first club to qualify for the semifinals of this season’s Europa League on Thursday despite losing 3-2 to Rubin Kazan in the second leg of their quarterfinal 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. That allowed Rubin to win the game on the night, but Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was pleased to be in the semifinal 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.


SPURS LOSE IN SHOOT-OUT

FC Basel reached their first European semifinals by beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 on penalties in the Europa League on Thursday after a dreadful miss by Emmanuel Adebayor in the shootout.

Clint Dempsey scored an 82nd minute equaliser for Tottenham to send the quarterfinal second leg into extra time, which Tottenham survived with 10 men as the match ended 2-2 and 4-4 on aggregate.

But it was all in vain as Togolese Adebayor casually leant back and fired his effort high and wide after team mate Tom Huddlestone had seen a previous penalty saved by Yann Sommer.

Defender Aleksandar Dragovic was hero and villain for the Swiss champions, gifting Tottenham a goal with a blunder in the first half but then scoring with a header while Dempsey scored both goals for the for Spurs who were without injured Gareth Bale.
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