PIX: Chelsea, Benfica make Europa League semis; Spurs out
European heavyweights Chelsea and Benfica reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and were joined by lesser lights FC Basel and Fenerbahce who made the last four of a continental competition for the first time.
European champions Chelsea grabbed a spot in Friday's draw with a 5-4 aggregate win over Rubin Kazan despite going down 3-2 on the night in Moscow, while Benfica scored in stoppage time to draw 1-1 at Newcastle United for a 4-2 aggregate victory.
Tottenham Hotspur had done the hard work to level their tie at 4-4 against Basel before being reduced to 10 men just before the end of normal time to leave themselves a man down for the extra period which they survived before losing 4-1 on penalties.
Fenerbahce weathered an onslaught behind closed doors at Lazio to draw 1-1 and go through 3-1 on aggregate.
Chelsea continue to inject some glamour into Europe's second tier club competition a year after they won the elite Champions League even if their side featured some lesser known names.
Image: Chelsea's Fernando Torres (right) celebrates his goal with teammates Victor Moses (centre) and Yossi Benayoun during their Europa League quarter-final second leg match against Rubin Kazan at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on Thursday
Photographs: Grigory Dukor/Reuters
'It was a pity to lose the game but we went through and that's the main thing'
Handing rare starts to Paulo Ferreira and 18-year-old Nathan Ake due to injuries, and with manager Rafael Benitez having one eye on Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City, they went ahead through a fifth-minute goal from Fernando Torres.
The Russians pulled one back through Ivan Marcano's header after 51 minutes before Victor Moses reestablished the visitors' lead four minutes later at the Luzhniki Stadium where Chelsea lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United.
Goekdeniz Karadeniz headed in from close range to make it 2-2 and Rubin snatched victory on the night when Bebras Natcho converted a 75th-minute penalty awarded after Cesar Azpilicueta was harshly adjudged to have pushed Aleksandr Ryazantsev.
"It was a pity to lose the game but we went through and that's the main thing," Benitez said."I'm happy with the first half but we have to improve on the second half, not just the defenders but the whole team. We have to deal with crosses better, but you have to give credit to them as well because they have some players with quality."
Image: Rubin Kazan's Ivan Marcano (right) is challenged by Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun during their Europa League quarter-final second leg match at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on Thursday
Photographs: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Benfica had to wait till Salvio's stoppage time goal to advance
Benfica, who held a 3-1 lead from last week's first leg, endured a nervous conclusion to their game after falling behind to a 71st-minute header from Papiss Cisse that meant the hosts would go through on away goals if they could score again.
The Portuguese former European Cup winners had to wait until the second minute of stoppage time to make absolutely sure of their passage into Friday's draw for the last four with Eduardo Salvio finishing off Rodrigo's low centre from the left.
"Two goals was a bridge too far," Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi told ITV4 referring to the first-leg defeat against Benfica who, like Chelsea, had dropped down from the Champions League to play in European soccer's second tier competition.
"We see with the game tonight it meant a lot to us, we have given everything we have in this competition. We will take a lot out of it, experience, and (it will) help us moving forward. Making the quarter-finals is a good achievement."
Image: Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse (right) heads to score during their Europa League quarter-final match against Benfica in Newcastle, on Thursday
Photographs: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Spurs played without Bale, Lennon
Twice UEFA Cup winners Spurs, locked at 2-2 after the first leg with Basel, resumed their tie in heavy rain in Switzerland.
The visitors took a 23rd-minute lead when Clint Dempsey rounded keeper Yann Sommer to fire home but the advantage lasted only four minutes as the dangerous Mohamed Salah combined with Marco Streller before poking the ball in.
Playing without injured regulars Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, Spurs lacked an attacking edge and Basel pulled ahead when defender Aleksandar Dragovic netted from close range after keeper Brad Friedel batted Fabian Schar's header to his feet.
There was another twist, though, as Dempsey levelled the aggregate score in the 82nd minute with a tame shot that Sommer should have dealt with but had to watch crawl over the line.Just as it looked like the momentum had swung in Spurs' favour they were reduced to 10 men in the final minute of normal time when last man Jan Vertonghen tripped Streller to give Basel a numerical advantage for extra time.
Image: FC Basel's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring as Tottenham Hotspur's Mousa Dembele (left) and goalkeeper Brad Friedel react during their Europa League quarter-final second leg match in Basel on Thursday
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Huddlestone was denied by an excellent save from Sommer
The Swiss could not capitalise and penalties followed with Basel eventually going through after Spurs substitute Tom Huddlestone was denied by an excellent save from Sommer and striker Emmanuel Adebayor sent his spot kick high over the bar.
"We made the country feel different towards the competition," Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas told ITV.
"Although we are disappointed we have set this standard for the future."
It was a much quieter affair at Lazio, mainly because they were playing behind closed doors at the Olympic stadium as punishment for the poor behaviour of their fans.
The Italian side gave themselves hope of a comeback from their 2-0 first-leg deficit when Senad Lulic headed in on the hour but the Turkish side replied through Caner Erkin in the 73rd minute to settle their nerves and the tie.
The Europa League final takes place on May 15 in Amsterdam.
Image: FC Basel's goalkeeper Yann Sommer makes a valiant save to deny Tottenham Hotspur's Tom Huddlestone (right) from scoring of a penalty during their Europa League quarter-final second leg match in Basel on Thursday
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters