Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Chelsea scrape past Sparta but Liverpool crash out

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard shows his dejection during the UEFA Europa League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday February 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard shows his dejection during the UEFA Europa League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday February 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  A dejected Luis Suarez of Liverpool reacts as his team win on the night but exit the competition during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield on February 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: A dejected Luis Suarez of Liverpool reacts as his team win on the night but exit the competition during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield on February 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Jamie Carragher of Liverpool makes an ill timed back pass to allow Hulk of Zenit to score the opening oal during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield on February 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Jamie Carragher of Liverpool makes an ill timed back pass to allow Hulk of Zenit to score the opening oal during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield on February 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Chelsea claimed a place in the last 16 of the Europa League last night with a dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser from Eden Hazard but Liverpool were knocked out despite a spirited comeback against the Russian club Zenit.

 

The 1-1 scoreline put Chelsea through 2-1 on aggregate to meet Steaua Bucharest in the next round on a mixed night for English clubs. Benitez was forced to defend another unconvincing show from Fernando Torres who has just one goal in his last 14 games. "He was in the right place at the right time. Are we disappointed he didn't score? Yes. But he was still giving his all to the team," Benitez said. "We had 22 attempts, 60 per cent of possession. We did enough to deserve to go through."

Liverpool were knocked out despite a spirited comeback against the Russian club Zenit. Brendan Rodgers' side trailed 2-0 from the first leg, then conceded first at Anfield, leaving them needing four goals to qualify. They managed three, two from Luis Suarez free-kicks, but failed to get over the line.

"To have to come back from a three-goal deficit was a phenomenal show," Rodgers said. "The players couldn't have done any more and the crowd couldn't. It was breathtaking. We just missed out but hopefully in the future there will be many more great nights."

Like Chelsea, Spurs left it late, with Mousa Dembélé scoring in the 90th minute to seal a 1-1 draw in Lyons and a 3-2 aggregate win. Up to that point the visitors had been going out. They have set up a tantalising tie against Inter, who they beat over two legs in thrilling style in the Champions League three years ago. "Spurs had two great games in 2010 and we want to recreate special nights that everyone remembers," Spurs manager, Andre Villas-Boas, said.

Newcastle qualified after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Metalist Kharkiv of the Ukraine. Shola Ameobi scored the only goal from the penalty spot.

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