Chelsea, Benfica Win in Europa League as Spurs Rally to Tie 2-2
Chelsea, Benfica and Fenerbahce won at home to take two-goal leads into the return matches of their Europa League soccer quarterfinals, while Tottenham rallied for a 2-2 draw with Basel.
Fernando Torres scored twice to lead Chelsea to a 3-1 win against Rubin Kazan last night, while Benfica beat Newcastle by the same score. Fenerbahce defeated Lazio 2-0, scoring both goals after Ogenyi Onazi was sent off early in the second half.
“Three-one is not bad, but it could be better,” Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez told ESPN. “We have confidence we can score in the away leg.”
Rubin, Newcastle, Lazio and Basel host the return matches in the two-game series April 11, with the winners advancing to the semifinals of Europe’s second-tier club competition.
Tottenham had to come from 2-0 down at White Hart Lane against Basel and finished the game with nine men after losing defender William Gallas and winger Gareth Bale to injuries near the end having used all its substitutions.
In the other match in London last night, Torres opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 16th minute as he held off Roman Sharonov and tucked the ball into the net as both players fell to the ground.
Moses made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute before the visiting team pulled a goal back when Bibras Natcho scored with a 41st- minute penalty kick after a handball by John Terry.
Spanish striker Torres clinched the victory with 20 minutes left when he headed home Juan Mata’s cross, doubling his goal tally in 2013 to four.
“Fernando needed to score a goal,” Benitez added. “We could see today the confidence, that he can work hard.”
Cisse Strikes Post
In Portugal, Papiss Cisse’s 12th-minute goal gave Newcastle the lead. The Senegal striker then hit the post and Benfica went down the other end to tie the game on Rodrigo’s goal.
After Cisse hit the post again early in the second half, Rodrigo Lima ran onto a back pass from Davide Santon and went around goalkeeper Tim Krul to score in the 65th minute. Oscar Cardozo converted a penalty kick six minutes later after Steven Taylor’s handball.
“If we had taken a 2-1 lead, you’d like to think we’d have a fantastic chance,” Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told ITV4. “It’s an uphill chance now.”
Lazio went down to 10 men in Turkey after Onazi picked up his second yellow card in the 48th minute. Fenerbahce went ahead in the 79th minute on Pierre Webo’s penalty kick after Stefan Radu’s handball and Dirk Kuyt made it 2-0 in stoppage time.
Goals from Valentin Stocker and Fabian Frei put Basel 2-0 up after 34 minutes in north London. Emmanuel Adebayor scored for Spurs five minutes before half time and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson tied it with a deflected goal in the 58th minute.
Tottenham finished two players down as Gallas limped off in the 89th minute and Bale, who’s scored 22 goals for Spurs this season, was carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly when challenging for the ball.
“He rolled his ankle,” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas told the British Broadcasting Corp. “At the moment there is a lot of pain, but hopefully not as bad as it could have been.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.