UEFA Champions League review

It proved a prosperous night for the away teams in Tuesday’s decisive UEFA Champions League Round of 16 contests with both Inter Milan and CSKA Moscow triumphing on foreign soil. Serie A champions Inter defended the honour of Italian clubs in Europe with an impressive display at Stamford Bridge, building on their 2-1 first-leg success over Chelsea with a 1-0 win to finish the job for coach Jose Mourinho against his old side.

Like the Blues, Sevilla also slumped at the first knockout hurdle, following up their 1-1 draw in Moscow with a 2-1 home loss to CSKA, which propelled the Russian club through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Inter and CSKA will now take their place in the last eight alongside Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Lyon and Manchester United.

The results
Chelsea 0-1 Inter (Inter win 3-1 on aggregate)
Goal: Samuel Eto'o (78)

Sevilla 1-2 CSKA Moscow (CSKA win 3-2 on aggregate)
Goals: Diego Perotti 41 (Sevilla); Tomas Necid 39, Keisuke Honda 55 (CSKA)

Goal of the night
Sevilla-CSKA Moscow (Tomas Necid 39)

Following a throw-in on the left, Keisuke Honda slipped the ball through to Tomas Necid in the middle, where the lofty 190cm striker proved he is more than just a fine header of the ball. The Czech forward beat a defender with delightful control before curling a precise effort past Andres Palop with the inside of his right foot.

The key moments
Tactical surprise: As unpredictable as ever, Jose Mourinho put his stamp on the match even before kick-off by opting to field three strikers in Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev, with an attack-minded Wesley Sneijder tucked in behind them. Slightly withdrawn, Eto’o put in a tireless shift harrying opponents for the ball, while Milito kept two defenders busy at all times. The Blues took half an hour to find their feet but eventually settled into their rhythm thanks to former Guingamp duo Florent Malouda, who continues to shine, and Didier Drogba, who found himself engaged in an epic duel with Walter Samuel. The London outfit piled on the pressure at the end of the first half yet were unable to find a way through Inter’s committed rearguard.

Russian resolve: Taking to the field in an ambitious 4-2-3-1 formation, CSKA demonstrated right from the start that they were in much better shape than in the early exchanges of the first leg. The opening 39 minutes could have yielded a goal at either end as the two sides played out an even affair, but it was the Russian visitors who ultimately broke the deadlock thanks to Necid’s fantastic control and finish. Their lead lasted just two minutes as Jesus Navas won the ball and crossed for Diego Perotti to level from close range, but as in 2007 – when they won away against Fenerbahce before losing on penalties at home – Sevilla failed to bury their chances. As a result, winter signing Honda was able to punish the Andalusian club with a curled free-kick over the wall that Palop ought to have parried clear.

Eto’o finish: Frustrated by Inter’s wily old soldiers at the back, Chelsea’s forwards increasingly lost their patience as time began to ebb away at Stamford Bridge. Cards began to be shown with increasing regularity to both teams but that did little to ruffle the feathers of the Serie A side, who kept their discipline and enjoyed the better chances. Their approach paid off with 78 minutes gone when a sumptuous ball from Sneijder released Eto’o, who raced past his marker and coolly rifled a shot beyond Ross Turnbull. The Cameroonian marksman then came close to doubling his tally in the last minute, but he had already done enough to deal Chelsea their first home defeat in four years in the Champions League and send the ‘Special One’, Mourinho, through to the last eight.

FIFA World Cup™ contenders
No fewer than 14 potential FIFA World Cup candidates had a hand in the action in west London, with Inter’s trio of Brazilians and one Argentinian carrying out their defensive duties with complete efficiency, while Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o shone further up the field by combining for the Nerazzurri’s winning strike. For Chelsea, only France’s Florent Malouda was genuinely able to pose a threat, in contrast to Côte d’Ivoire colleague Didier Drogba, who came in for some enthusiastic marking and ultimately lost his cool. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka all struggled to perform to their usual standards.

In Spain, Sevilla’s Brazilian forward Luis Fabiano failed to find the back of the net, whereas his Japanese counterpart Keisuke Honda hit the target with the goal that took CSKA through to the quarter-finals.

Next matches
Wednesday 17 March – Round of 16 second leg
Barcelona-Stuttgart (1-1 on aggregate)
Bordeaux-Olympiacos (1-0 on aggregate)

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