Chelsea secured their progress into the last four of the Europa League a 3-2 defeat the second leg of their quarter final against Rubin Kazan in a topsy-turvy second leg that saw the Blues progress to the semi-finals despite a narrow defeat on the night after goals from Fernando Torres and Victor Moses either side of the break.
What We Learned :
1. Fernando Torres – back?
2. Defensive woes
3. Good performance from Victor Moses and Ramires
4. Nathan Ake ready for the big stage
1. Fernando Torres – back?:
After 3 good performances prior to this match, Fernando Torres put in another good shift. His first real action produced a goal – a delightful half-volley from way outside the penalty area that sailed in after Rhyzikov had wandered off his line. Has made a habit of embarrassing this particular goalkeeper. It was a sublime finish by Torres after a great ball by Frank Lampard that found Torres’ brilliant run. After a good performance and a goal, a lot of fans will say “Torres is back”.. I’m not 100% sure on it this time, but after 4 good performances, Torres might be back. What we do know for sure, is that Torres’ confidence is at a high level.
2. Defensive questions?:
We defended quite horrendously tonight especially aerial balls with Rafa Benitez’s zonal marking not doing the greatest of jobs.
Ferreira – Was composed on the ball and produced a resolute display considering it was only the Portugese defenders seventh start over the last two seasons. Did not set the world alight with this performance, however, and should not threaten Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand’s claims to the left-back position. (Goal.com)
Terry – Blocked an early shot from Eremenko which could have turned the tie and was typically solid at the back thereafter. (Goal.com)
Luiz – Carried the ball forward well and distributed his typical share of long-range passes. Showed poor marking for Rubin’s second, though, and will be disappointed to have conceded three when his side were so in control early on. (Goal.com)
Azpilicueta – Produced reat link-up play with Benayoun down the right, ventured forward at will. Did not influence the game too much, however, and was very unlucky to have given away a second-half penalty for Rubin. (Goal.com)
With this performance, I think Benitez has to rethink the defense. Zonal marking obviously didn’t work tonight. It was, in fact, the biggest problem tonight. Due to the zonal marking, we were often easily beaten by aerial challenges in the box and we had to pay for that twice. All the goals were direct results of the failure of zonal marking. Rafa Benitez must rethink this ahead of Manchester City or else, we could face a bigger problem.
3. Good performance from Victor Moses and Ramires:
Ramires – Energetic throughout and got forward with good runs. Improved on his sloppy performance in the first leg at Stamford Bridge and came off after an hour knowing he had put in a good shift for his side. (Goal.com)
Moses – Threatened in the first half with pace and energy, firing in shots from goal scoring positions. Was rewarded with a goal early in the second half after a great turn and finish to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead. (Goal.com)
Both Ramires and Moses were the best players tonight, they put in 2 very good halves and were very consistent. They didn’t make many errors, either, which is always a good sign of improvement.
4. Nathan Ake ready for the big stage:
Ake – Did not really influence the game but stepped up to the occasion well considering this was only his second senior start. (Goal.com)
In his previous start, Ake was impressive. He played in the double pivot alongside Ramires against Middlesbrough. At the very least, Ake’s display against Middlesbrough should help coax Mikel John Obi out of the cosy shell that the Nigerian lapses into too often. Alongside Ake, Ramires excelled. The Brazilian’s shot for Chelsea’s opening goal at the Riverside, crowning a display of typically strong running and passing, may convince the manager to try him at the base of the midfield quintet again, instead of Frank Lampard. I think Nathan Ake could be ready for the starting XI next season.
Other Points :
1. Frank Lampard belongs in the attacking midfield position
2. Marko Marin’s minutes continue to stay low