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
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.
Latest in Sport
US Open 2014: Roger Federer vs Roberto Bautista Agut match preview
Danny Welbeck joins Arsenal: Welbeck joins growing British core among Arsenal squad - but it wasn't always this homely
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal triggers United upheaval as 13 players leave club since manager arrived
Chelsea completed transfers: A profile of the new arrivals including Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Loic Remy
- 1 David Sedaris: What I learnt from Fitbit about the world around me
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: 'It's only rape if the victim is conscious'
- 5 Katie Hopkins in tears over weight gain challenge: ‘I hate fat people for making me do this’
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain