CHELSEA 3 vs RUBIN KAZAN 1
CHELSEA manager Rafael Benitez toasted striker Fernando Torres’s brace in last night’s Europa League stroll against Rubin Kazan, but admitted it is unlikely to be enough to keep the Spaniard in the team.
Torres cut an unfamiliar figure in a protective face mask and also looked a different man in front of goal, opening the scoring in the quarter-final first leg and adding a clinical header for only his second and third strikes in seven games.
Benitez joked that he may make Torres keep the mask on, but conceded that Demba Ba’s unavailability for European matches left him little choice but to recall the Senegal forward and rest the £50m record signing for Sunday’s visit of Sunderland.
“That is something to think about,” he said. “The problem we have is that Demba Ba cannot play in the Europa League, so we have to manage both [players]. Anyway Demba Ba scored the other day [against Manchester United].”
Only 46 Rubin fans made the lengthy journey to Stamford Bridge and their mood was soon dented when Torres vied with veteran centre-back Roman Sharonov for a high ball from David Luiz and, when they fell in a heap, prodded past goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov.
Just after the half hour Victor Moses twanged a languid half-volley into the top-left corner and the tie looked finished, though a controversial penalty, converted by Bebras Natcho, gave Rubin hope.
But with 20 minutes remaining Torres capped a swift counter-attack by meeting a Juan Mata cross with a powerful header to move Chelsea a stride closer to a semi-final place.