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LONDON: Chelsea led a trio of English clubs into the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday after Tottenham Hotspur survived a thrilling Inter Milan fightback to advance on away goals and Newcastle United got a late winner.
Goals from Juan Mata, John Terry and Fernando Torres, who also missed a penalty, put European champions Chelsea through 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate after visiting Steaua Bucharest’s Vlad Chiriches equalised on the stroke of halftime.
Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor pounced in extra time to score a vital away goal in their 4-1 second-leg defeat at the San Siro as they scraped past three-times European champions Inter after the nail-biting tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.
Newcastle United joined their Premier League rivals when Papiss Cisse headed the winning goal against big-spending Anzhi Mackhachkala with the last action of the game to take them through 1-0 after a goalless first leg.
Another wealthy Russian side, 2008 UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg, also went out to Basel 2-1 on aggregate despite a 1-0 win on the night after they had a late penalty saved against the Swiss team, who played the second half with 10 men.
Rubin Kazan fared better than their compatriots as they saw off Levante 2-0 in extra time to end Spanish interest in this season’s competition.
Lazio’s Libor Kozak scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart for a 5-1 aggregate victory as they kept Italian hopes alive with a place in yesterday’s quarter-final draw.
Fenerbahce drew 1-1 with Viktoria Plzen to go through 2-1 on aggregate after a narrow first-leg victory in the Czech Republic and former Europan champions Benfica are also in the last eight thanks to a 3-2 win at Bordeaux for a 4-2 aggregate success.
But it was Inter’s stirring comeback, spoiled by lacklustre Tottenham’s vital away goal, and Chelsea’s second-half display to see off spirited former European champions Steaua that lit up a fascinating night of Europa League action.
Spain striker Torres led the way for Chelsea in a rousing second half by scoring a sublime goal, his second in 19 games.
The English teams’ Europa League success contrasts with their failure in the Champions League which did not feature any when the draw was made for both competitions yesterday.