The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “There had been the familiar murmurings of discontent from a minority of those in the stands when Fernando Torres’ name was announced prior to kick-off here, though by the end Chelsea were delighted to have him. The Spaniard has enjoyed so few outings like this since his British record move from Merseyside but, with his face masked as if he had come incognito, Rubin Kazan found him unrecognisable from the player who has spluttered so often over the last two years. His team have a two-goal lead to take to Moscow, and Torres has a brace to savour.”
The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “The way things are going for the English clubs, it could soon be only the blue flag flying high in Europe again. With Tottenham Hostpur and Newcastle United enduring painful evenings on Thursday night, Chelsea look comfortably the Premier League’s best bet to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League, particularly with Fernando Torres refinding his goalscoring touch. Torres’s second goal was a header of which a Chelsea No 9 from yesteryear, Kerry Dixon, would have been proud.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Torres is Chelsea’s striker for Europe, the man who was bought to give the club the edge in the Champions League but was on the bench the night they eventually won it. Now, with Demba Ba cup-tied for the Europa League, he is pretty much Rafael Benitez’s only option and last night he delivered.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Fernando Torres scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season with Victor Moses netting his seventh to give the Blues a lead to take to Russia next week.”
Cunningplan: An interesting note from the commentary on last night’s game.
If we go on to win this thing, we would be the first team in the country to win all of the European club cups.
This competition has now added a little bit more interest and enthusiasm on my part.
limetreebower: I’m quite enthused about this competition in principle, but last night’s game tested me somewhat. Like Dr B (and others, I imagine) I was expecting a pretty hard game, enlivened by the usual entertaining European atmosphere. Instead Kazan showed up with maybe 15 supporters (for anyone who hasn’t seen TV pictures, I’m not joking) and played a sluggish, low-tempo, bored-looking game; really the tie ought to be over, but we were pretty flat too.
The whole event rather defeated all those newspaper articles about how we ought to give the Euro Cup more respect. It positively screamed second-string.
Still, at least we managed to rest a number of key players. Some of them — hello Frank, hi Ramires — appeared to be rested despite being in the starting XI.
I’m not sure what one can draw from the game otherwise. Bertrand still looks like a good player to me, but presumably on Planet Abramovich he’s not a glamorous enough name ever to be a proper Chelsea player so I doubt he’ll succeed Cashley long-term. Mata yet again did his best to make us look like a top-class team all by himself. JT had one wonderful Moore-style tackle but increasingly looks like our fourth-choice centre-half. I don’t think Nando was any better or worse than he’s been all year long: as usual he alternated between zipping around with lots of nice little flicks and touches, and mysteriously disappearing from the game. His chances went in for once, but otherwise I didn’t see too much different.
Gleb: Just to clarify about Rubin:
The fact they had 15 away supporters and played boring football has NOTHING to do with the UEFA Cup. Russian and Eastern European clubs still take it VERY seriously. It’s their Champions League. They really do think the rest of the world cares and it’s somehow prestigious.
It’s about Rubin itself. That’s how they are. Which is a mystery. Actually, there’s a semi-grand “debate” right now in Russia because a few articles, that coincided with the game vs Chelsea, actually had the guts to say that Rubin is soulless, has no fans and is not needed by anyone (the problem was the fact they hadn’t declared their home stadium to the UEFA prior to the tournament so they basically have to play somewhere else throughout the entire run). The truth is more complicated. Purely as a football team, they have nothing at all to be ashamed of. Two-time national champions, always play well in Europe, the only way they, still as a relatively small club, know how to. They’re very disciplined, very stable, a lot of people like their manager and so on and so on. Against Chelsea they simply had a bad day. But the rest is true. No one gives a flying fuck about this club at all, even in their home city, which is actually the third/fourth major city in Russia, with a very rich history, the capital of Tatarstan, a national republic of Tatars, who used to be quite a big deal in European history. So it’s not like they’re from some remote village. It’s a rich, prosperous city. But… I have no idea why, not a clue, but basically no one likes the club over there. They LOVE their hockey team (really proper noisy fans), they love their volleyball team, but despite being two-time national champions, they couldn’t care less. And the club itself doesn’t do anything to promote itself and work with the fans. Couple that with their trademark (no sarcasm) style of defensive (but usually effective) football and you get what you get.
Disclaimer: Rubin does have many loyal fans and they are one of the nicest people (compared to fans of other clubs) around. So I hope they take no offense in my words. It’s just that the bigger picture is like this, and few people can argue with that.