Chelsea scrape past Sparta but Liverpool heroics in vain

Blues and Spurs through after last-gasp equalisers, Reds fail to pull off miracle and Newcastle progress

Stamford Bridge

Chelsea claimed a place in the last 16 of the Europa League last night with a dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser from Eden Hazard after Rafa Benitez's team had trailed 1-0 to Sparta Prague for most of the night with pressure mounting again on the club's interim manager.

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
film
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore