Steaua Bucharest 1-0 Chelsea – We Know What We Were

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We know what we were…

Cue the anti-Rafa chants as Yossi Benayoun’s name lit up on the stadium’s LED screens. It’s Europa League time again, and Marko Marin was licking his lips in anticipation. He probably joined the fans’ jeers after realising even he hadn’t been selected to start. Fernando Torres was brought into the first eleven however, whilst Juan Mata had four defenders to keep him company on the bench.

In Benitez’s defence, he’d fielded a more than capable side to show the Romanian team an early exit from the tournament. With John Terry, David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Oscar, and Eden Hazard all in the line-up, expectations were high – that was until a deflated performance from the Champions of Europe stifled the atmosphere in the Stadionul Ghencea.

In the 34th minute the home fans were finally able to wave their flags and matchday scarves when referee Sergei Karasev awarded their side a penalty for a less than convincing foul by Ryan Bertrand. Naturally, the official’s decision made the half time headlines – continuing this week’s theme of English teams’ European injustice.

In terms of performance the second half brought much of the same for Chelsea. Marginally controlling possession, the London side faced a frustrating 45 minutes, as their attempts to feed Fernando Torres were hindered by Fernando Torres.

The struggling striker did actually manage to find Hazard with a header, but the Belgian’s shot rose above the bar. So too did Luiz’s free kick which was awarded outside the box with just minutes remaining.

1-0 seemed set to be the final result until Marin was finally given ten minutes to make a difference. It finished 1-0.

Press Reports

The Daily Telegraph, Paul Kelso: “Chelsea’s season keeps getting harder. The European champions, whose defence ended earlier than any previous holders, are now in danger of dropping out of the booby prize early too.”

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Europe was supposed to set Rafael Benítez apart but at present it is merely adding to his angst. Chelsea were beaten again here and must now turn over a deficit in next week’s return leg in London if they are to force passage beyond Steaua Bucharest into the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Recovery is not beyond them in the tie but, with a wounded Manchester United to come on Sunday and their own confidence bruised, a pervading sense of anxiety persists.”

The Independent, Simon Johnson: “No matter what Rafael Benitez tries as Chelsea’s interim first-team manager, it always seems to backfire. Just a couple of days after the club’s chief executive, Ron Gourlay, warned him that finishing in the Premier League top four was a must, Benitez is on the verge of failing in another cup competition.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit at Stamford Bridge next week if we are to progress into the Europa League quarter-finals after a Raul Rusescu penalty proved the difference between the two sides at the National Arena.”


34′ Raul Rusescu (pen) 1-0

There are 22 comments

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  1. The Real Tony G

    From the previous article. Thanks Chris, never easy to cover games like this.

    Utterly dismal. I think Mark said the Brentford game at GP was the worst he could remember. That rubbish tonight must come close. Good job we had JTs leadership to see us through 😉 Was Lamps even playing for a contract tonight? Did Hazard have some ropey Goulash? Did Torres even want to be there? Benayoun ffs? Why just why is he even back in the squad? Bertrand is just not looking good enough for us.

    That was an embarrassing and shameful display tonight. We have gone a longways backwards. Not even mid table good enough.

  2. Desmond

    Seriously, Chelsea? Do not make me start to think that Spurs are looking like serious competition ‘cos some things can’t be unsaid.

    The only joy I’m getting out of Chelsea these days is a few quid – the result of betting against us – and it seems to be an unbeatable system.

    I believe my next bet will be on Benitez to substitute Mata (a sub himself) at 1-0 with Ross Turnbull. I’m thinking at 4/1 it’s worth a punt.


  3. Blueboydave

    I watched the first 25 minutes or so live before I was going out for the evening.

    It was already clear it was going to be another of our “can’t be arsed” non-performances. Watching the remainder when I got home with liberal use of the x2 and x6 buttons it didn’t improve much in the 2nd half after another motivational pep-talk from Mad Rafa.

    Assuming we can rouse ourselves next Thursday the tie is clearly rescuable, but the performance in the home leg in the last round doesn’t offer much comfort.

    Like Desmond, a 2-leg disaster v The Spuds in the next round is chasing round the fringes of my consciousness – as is finishing below an AVB-managed team in the EPL.

    I believe it might be called poetic justice .

  4. NorthernVA

    Dear God! Rafa is going to lead us out at OT on Sunday. This season feels like a bad acid trip. It needs to end….soon,

  5. Blue_MikeL

    Does anybody seriously think that team containing Torres as a striker (or as anything)can win ?

  6. Fat Nakago

    My detailed crime scene investigation report is found here: But the verdict based upon the evidence found at the scene of the crime is obvious and simple. We played like a bunch of donkeys…like a bunch of horses who’d be better off shot, then hung, then shot again, then burned, but surely not eaten.

    It’s clear to me that someone tried to deal with the recent horsemeat scandal by returning the tainted meat to its country of origin. But like Bertrand’s little faux pas, that someone’s mistake in sending Chelsea FC instead is not to blame for murder of quality football that ensued on the pitch in Bucharest.

  7. bluebayou

    Thanks for a suitably dry, detached response to what seems to have been an extremely frustrating night. I didn’t see the game but it sounds like it was an another inexplicably poor performance.

    The game against West Brom is the only recent run out that has come anywhere near the potential in this team. If it was an isolated example then being 1-0 down with the home leg to come could be met with a shrug. But there appears to be very little jump in this team. A malaise seems to be running through the whole outfit. We are left praying that the next game will be the breakout that takes the team forward.

    But it’s hard to think this weekend’s tilt at a very upset Man U is going to be that game.

    Better to ponder that ourselves and Steaua have one European Cup and a final defeat each. And furthermore that they represent that strand in football of the team that gets its day in the sun before lapsing back into relative obscurity. This is in contrast to the perennial Euro giants. Sobering for us to contemplate what our future might be.

    Looking at the superb photo led me to look up that team. Belodedici and Lacatus were names that sprang out from the team that beat a Barca featuring Steve Archibald and Bernd Schuster. And Lacatus was there again a couple of years later when they lost to the great Milan side of Van Basten, Gullit and our very own Carlo Ancelotti. Also in the losing Steaua team were Gheorghe Hagi and the great Dapper Dan Petrescu.

    Stand out days for Romanian football although the same cannot be said of the political and social background from which it sprang, as Ceausescu entered the final years of his reign.

  8. TruBlue007

    Possibly the best 2nd half we have played all season?

    We were in OT against the leaders of the prem and it felt like we were playing swansea at the bridge.

    very proud of the players an immense effort. And kudos to Rafa – got his tactics spot on for the 2nd half. Brave to take of Frank. Hazard for Moses was obvious though.

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