Live Commentary: Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 Chelsea - as it happened

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez at the Stadium of Light on December 8, 2012
© PA Photos
Read how Chelsea went down in the Romanian capital to Steaua in the Europa League last 16.

Steaua Bucuresti upset European champions Chelsea to go ahead on aggregate in the Europa League last 16 this evening.

The Romanian side's top scorer Raul Rusescu was the match winner, netting a 34th minute penalty to seal a 1-0 victory.

Read how it all unfolded in our minute-by-minute updates below.


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5.01pmEvening all! Let's not waste any time as the teams for tonight have already been announced...

5.03pmCHELSEA XI: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand; Mikel, Lampard; Benayoun, Oscar, Hazard; Torres

5.04pmIt's a return to the starting lineup for John Terry while Rafael Benitez has made changes elsewhere with Fernando Torres leading the line and Yossi Benayoun getting a rare start.

5.06pmAnd here's the Chelsea bench tonight: Turnbull, Cole, Ferreira, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Marin, Mata

5.07pmIf things aren't going the Blues' way then expect to see Juan Mata come on in an attempt to change the game. However, if the visitors are doing just fine then Benitez is unlikely to use his star playmaker with one eye on Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United.

5.08pmSTEAUA XI: Tatarusanu, Zukala, Pintilii, Chipciu, Tanase, Latovlevici, Rapa, Chiriches, Rusescu, Bourceanu, Popa

5.10pmThe hosts' main threat will be Raul Rusescu. He is Steaua's top scorer this season with an impressive 18 goals in 21 appearances.

5.13pmAway from the game in Romania, let me quickly point you in the direction of tonight's 5pm kickoff in the competition. Newcastle are in Russia taking on the mega-rich Anzhi and you can follow live text updates of that one with Liam Apicella by clicking here.

5.15pm(It's currently 0-0, by the way.)

5.17pmBack to that Steaua lineup and the second man to look out for may well be Cristian Tanase. The 26-year-old central midfielder is a Romanian international and has bagged six goals so far this term.

5.19pmThe hosts currently occupy top spot in their domestic Liga 1 division having won 17 of their 21 matches. That run of form has left them 12 points clear of nearest challenges Astra Giurgiu.

5.23pmChelsea, meanwhile, are fourth in the Premier League after being overtaken by Tottenham Hotspur. They remain five points ahead of Arsenal in the race for a top-four, Champions League finish.

5.28pmIn the last round Steaua stunned Ajax on penalties to reach this stage of the competition. After a 2-0 win for the Dutch side in Amsterdam, Steaua's hopes of victory were slim but they also won 2-0 at home before edging the shootout 4-2.

5.31pmChelsea progressed to the last 16 by just about ousting Sparta Prague. They went to the Czech capital and won 1-0 but were losing by the same scoreline at Stamford Bridge until Eden Hazard's rocket late on sealed a 2-1 aggregate win.

5.33pmMany have criticised top clubs for not taking the Europa League seriously enough but that's not the case with Steaua as The Telegraph writer Paul Kelso tells us on Twitter: "Not fussed about the Europa League? Not in Bucharest. Stadium 1/3 full, Chelsea jeered and whistled, and this is just the warm-up.

"Expecting 54,000 sell-out in National Stadium, tickets sold in five hours we're told. It will be noisy and partisan."


5.36pmESPN are covering the match tonight. Click here to see their 'Vine' of the Chelsea players heading out to warm up. David Luiz's hair is unmistakable!

5.38pmREFEREE WATCH: Tonight's officiating team is Russian and the man in charge is 33-year-old Sergey Karasev.

5.40pmThe last European match Mr Karasev took charge of was a 3-3 goalfest between Borussia Monchengladbach and Lazio on Valentine's Day. That day he dished out five yellow cards and one red and looking at his record he definitely isn't afraid to delve into his pocket!

5.43pmOver in Russia it's been a fairly even game with little action that is summed up perfectly by @OptaJoe on Twitter: "39 - The first shot in Anzhi vs Newcastle Utd came in the 39th minute, the longest wait for a shot in a Europa League game this season. Shy."

5.47pmBenitez has just said on Al Jazeera that Terry's lack of regular action since returning from injury is because of the wealth of talent Chelsea have in the centre-half position. His partner there tonight is Luiz but could have easily been Gary Cahill or Branislav Ivanovic. The latter is at right-back ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta tonight.

5.49pmIt's half time in Russia and Newcastle have held Anzhi to a stalemate so far. Our half-time report is already up and you can read it here.


5.50pmPREDICTION! With 10 minutes until kickoff, it's time for my thoughts on the match and I'm going for a low-scoring affair. I'm going to plump for a 1-0 away win for the Blues similar to their game in Prague when Oscar netted the winner.

5.52pmI've been hugely impressed with the young Brazilian's progress over the course of this season. Much was expected of the tricky playmaker but he struggled to adapt to England straight away. It hasn't taken him long to settle down though and he's now one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League.

5.54pmChelsea are, of course, defending champions of Europe but suffered an early exit in this year's Champions League by losing out to Juventus and Shakhtar in the group stage. If they stay in the Europa League and win the FA Cup then it won't be a complete disaster for Benitez.

5.58pmThe two sides are out on the field and we're just about ready to go. Chelsea in blue, Steaua red.

0 minKICKOFF! Steaua get us underway in front of a record crowd at the National Stadium.

1 minEarly corner for the hosts as Luiz clears away but the set piece is headed out by Chelsea.

3 minSteaua lose possession and Oscar has the chance to break clear but instead of dribbling he looks for Torres early but his long through ball is cut out.

5 minThe home side are dominating the ball early on but are yet to test Cech as Chipciu drags his 25-yard effort well wide.

6 minThe fans are creating a fantastic atmosphere at the moment. Chelsea are up against it as Steaua win another corner.

7 minIt doesn't help that Chelsea have brought just 200 fans or so to the Romanian capital. Apparently many booked tickets to Amsterdam on the assumption that Ajax would go through in the last round. I'm sure many would have preferred a trip to the Dutch capital!

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11 minI know 'hostile atmosphere' is a football cliche but it really is relevant for this match. Every time the ball is at the feet of a blue shirt the whole stadium jeers and whistles.

13 minIvanovic is rightfully unhappy as a corner is awarded despite the last touch clearly being off Chipciu. Nothing comes of the corner though as it is overhit by Latovlevici.

16 minSuperb long kick from Cech reaches Torres on the right wing and he controls it nicely before skipping past Chiriches and into the area but then poking it out of play. Sums him up at the moment.

20 minBenayoun very rarely gets a game for the Blues and I can't say I've noticed him at all so far.

20 minLuiz goes on one of his trademark forays forward from the back and he's tripped 35 yards or so out and now looks like he wants to take the free kick. Can't shoot from there surely?

21 minNo, he doesn't. Instead Lampard floats it in and Steaua head clear. Ivanovic loops it back in and Hazard keeps it in before dribbling away from goal. He seems to be clipped but referee Krasev doesn't agree and waves play on.

22 minChelsea have another free kick in a threatening position as Latovlevici brings down Torres...

23 minWhipped delivery from Lampard seeking out Terry at the back but that's strong defending from Szukala to head out for a corner. Lampard goes over to swing it in and Ivanovic isn't picked up at the back post but the Serbian can't get enough on it and heads wide.

25 minOn first glance the pitch in Bucharest looks a nice one, but the ball is bobbling up all the time and the players are struggling to string together a succession of passes.

29 minChelsea will have chances to counter in this game because of Steaua's hunger to get forward and please the buoyant crowd. The visitors' latest attack is broken up as Torres miscontrols a fierce pass from Luiz.

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32 minTorres steals the ball from Chiriches before the Steaua centre-back gets back to slide in and put it out for a corner. Lampard is again the taker and every time Chelsea have a set piece the fans are shining bright green lasers in their eyes.

33 minPENALTY TO STEAUA! Bertrand is adjudged to have pulled Rusescu and is booked.

34 minGOAL! Steaua 1-0 Chelsea (Rusescu)

34 minChelsea had looked comfortable dealing with the hosts' threat but they're undone by Bertrand's obstruction on Rusescu. I said before the game how clinical the striker has been this season and he makes no mistake from the spot. Cech guessed right and may be angry not to have kept it out but it was a powerful pen from Rusescu.

37 minChelsea look to respond instantly and are camped in Steaua's half before Oscar's cross is too close to Tatarusanu who catches easily.

38 minCHANCE! Brilliant low save from Tatarusanu stops Benayoun from equalising. It was wonderful passing between the Israeli and Hazard but not quite enough power on the finish to beat the Steaua stopper.

41 minHuge jeer from the home fans as Hazard looks to turn Popa inside out but overruns it out of play. Bertrand was fouled right on the edge of the area but Krasev played advantage.

42 minSAVE! This is much better from Chelsea as Torres collects a pass before volleying goalwards from 18 yards but straight at Tatarusanu who parries away.

45+1 minHALF-TIME: Steaua 1-0 Chelsea

6.46pmNo added time whatsoever as Krasev blows his whistle just after 45 minutes.

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6.47pmSteaua lead thanks to 2012's Romanian player of the year Rusescu. The striker was adjudged to have been hauled over by Bertrand in the box and smashed home the spot kick.

6.49pmIf you've only just joined us and want a summary of the opening 45, you can find Robert Summerscale's half-time report here.

6.51pmThe full-time whistle has just gone in Russia and it's a great result for Newcastle as they hold Anzhi to a 0-0 scoreline.

6.52pmThere's plenty of talk saying how bad the match was but Newcastle won't care a jot as they'll fancy themselves to knock out the super-rich club once they get them back to St James' Park.

6.53pmJack Prescott's match report on the Newcastle stalemate can be read by clicking here.

6.56pmHere are some stats from the first half in Bucharest:

Steaua:
Shots 2
On target 0
Possession 54%
Corners 3
Fouls 6

Chelsea:
Shots 4
On target 2
Possession 46%
Corners 4
Fouls 2


6.59pmThey're very efficient with their timekeeping in European competitions as Steaua come back out just before the 7pm mark. Chelsea follow soon after.

46 minKICKOFF! Chelsea get the second half underway. They'll want at least one away goal to take back to London.

7.02pmBriefly away from the match in Romania, let me point you in the direction of our buildup and commentary on arguably the tie of the last 16 between Tottenham and Inter. Join Barney Corkhill by clicking here.

49 minIf anything the home fans are even louder this half! Even start to the second 45 with no openings at either end. Will Steaua be happy with 1-0? It will mean that one goal in London will leave Chelsea needing to score three.


50 minYELLOW! First Steaua player to go in the book is Pintilii as he goes in nastily high on Terry.

51 minNice football from Chelsea as Benayoun slips in Hazard and the Belgian's first touch is enough to get him away from Latovlevici. He dinks a cross in for Torres but it's just too high and Tatarusanu comes out to claim.

55 minUnlucky for Hazard as he links well with Lampard before feinting a shot but unfortunately he slips when he would have had the chance to lay in Lampard for a free shot on goal.

56 minSHOT! Chelsea fail to clear and the ball eventually bounces kindly for Tanase but his volley is just wide of the post and I think Cech had it covered.

58 minSTEAUA SUB: First change of the match as yellow-carded Pintilii comes off for Andrei Prepelita.

61 minChelsea will be susceptible to the counter, especially if Luiz keeps bombing forward like that. The home side streak clear down the right through Popa and he fizzes it across the pitch for the onrushing Tanase who sidefoots a first-time shot way over.

62 minJuan Mata is being readied for Chelsea. He's the visitors' only real attacking hope from the bench.

64 minLovely ball over the top from Lampard for Torres but the Spaniard strangely looks back for a teammate instead of turning and shooting.

64 minCHELSEA SUB: Mata comes on to replace Benayoun, who spurned the visitors' best chance so far in the first half.

66 minStrange incident as Bertrand stops play seemingly unhappy with the ball. I guess it was flat. No problem anyway as Steaua sportingly return the ball to Cech.

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66 minYELLOW! Mikel is cautioned for a late challenge on Prepelita.

71 minTorres really isn't the player he once was. It's been another wasteful night for 'El Nino' as he slows down a counter attack before giving up possession cheaply. Just a minute later and he crosses the ball straight out of play. Dear dear.

74 minSHOT! Lampard volleys in a cross that catches out Szukala and he misdirects a header up that Torres then flicks on for Hazard. The Belgian volleys goalwards from a tight angle but blasts it over.

75 minCHELSEA SUB: Hazard is then brought off for Marko Marin.

80 minJust 10 minutes left for the Blues to steal an equaliser and in all honesty I can't see them doing it. @OptaJoe tells us on Twitter: "67 - Prior to tonight, Chelsea posted a passing accuracy rate of 85.3% in Europe this season. Against Steaua, it's currently 67%. Sloppy."

81 minGranted, that below-par passing can, in part, be attributed to the bobbly surface but it's been a wasteful night for the London side.

83 minCHANCE! Excellent switch of play from Lampard to pick out Marin and he eyes up Rapa before cutting in on his right and firing low but straight at Tatarusanu who pushes out for a corner. Nothing comes of the delivery.

84 minLuiz is brought down 30 yards out and he takes the kick himself. There's plenty of power on his sidefoot effort but it flies just over the crossbar with Tatarusanu watching it over all the way.

85 minAnd now the Steaua keeper simply kicks the ball out of play to go down injured with what looks like a hip injury.

86 minRazvan Stanca has begun warming up but it looks like Tatarusanu is feeling OK to carry on now.

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87 minSwift passing from Steaua results in some space for left-back Latovlevici, who has impressed me tonight, but this time he's wasteful with his cross-shot that goes straight at Cech.

89 minThat's not very Lampard-like. The veteran midfielder is afforded room on the edge of the box for the first time tonight but he drags his shot harmlessly wide.

90 minFOUR minutes added on.

90+2 minSTEAUA SUB: Goalscorer Rusescu gets his standing ovation as Florin Gardos comes on.

90+4 minAlmost a second for Steaua as Gardos beats Luiz in a 50-50 before hesitating on the edge of the area and seeing his shot blocked by Bertrand.

90+5 minFULL-TIME: Steaua 1-0 Chelsea

7.51pmAnother shock for the record Bucharest crowd to celebrate as European champions Chelsea are downed in the Romanian capital.

7.52pmThe match was won by prolific frontman Raul Rusescu, who tucked home a penalty after being felled by Bertrand.

7.53pmIf you've only just joined us and want a concise roundup of the match then read Robert's report here.

7.54pmThe tie isn't over for Chelsea as they'll be confident of winning at Stamford Bridge. However, if Steaua get a goal then the Blues will need to net three. It's something they can do though and I'm very much looking forward to it.

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7.55pmThanks for joining Sports Mole this evening. Make sure you now head over and join Barney for the big Spurs-Inter matchup. Good night.

John Terry celebrates scoring the opener for Chelsea
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