Torres scores winner then fluffs penalty

EUROPA LEAGUE

CHELSEA 3 vs STEAUA BUCHAREST 1
(CHELSEA WIN 3-2 ON AGGREGATE)

MISFIRING striker Fernando Torres proved the unlikely hero as Chelsea overcame a wobble against Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge last night to reach the last eight of the Europa League.

Midfielder Juan Mata put the Blues ahead on the night and levelled the tie on aggregate, following their defeat in Romania last week, only for Vlad Chiriches to hit back for Steaua and leave the hosts needing two more goals.

Captain John Terry headed the first of them from Mata’s left-wing free-kick and Torres made space to strike the decisive third through his marker’s legs and into the far corner 19 minutes from time.

It was the Spaniard’s 16th of the season but only his third since Christmas, and Chelsea’s much-maligned £50m record signing still had time to sour his night by crashing a penalty onto the bar.

Victory means yet more fixtures to add to an already congested season for the European champions, although they and interim manager Rafael Benitez could yet end the season with two trophies, having earned an FA Cup replay at Manchester United last weekend.

Mata leads Chelsea’s scoring chart with 18, although Torres could have moved to within one of his compatriot had his spot-kick not hit the bar after Eden Hazard had been fouled.