It was at this stage of the competition that we entered the Europa League in 2013, and ahead of the round of 32 concluding tonight, the official Chelsea website revisits our route to glory in Amsterdam six years ago with the help of images, footage and quotes…
No Prague pushover
After coming third in our Champions League group we dropped down into the Europa League and were drawn to play Sparta Prague in the round of 32. Neither leg was a classic but we did just about enough to advance, winning 1-0 in the Czech capital courtesy of a late Oscar strike, and then securing a 1-1 draw on home turf when sub Eden Hazard netted a blockbuster in second-half stoppage time.
‘It was a great goal from Eden. He came on, showed sharpness and got the goal to top it off.’
— John Terry
Back from the brink
Steaua Bucharest stunned Ajax, whose Amsterdam Arena was to host the final, so Romania was our next destination. We conceded a soft penalty and lost the first leg 1-0, and our task became harder when Steaua cancelled out Juan Mata’s opener back at the Bridge, meaning we required two unanswered goals to progress. Thankfully, John Terry and Fernando Torres delivered to make it 3-2 on aggregate.
‘We made it hard for ourselves because we lost 1-0 away in Bucharest and you could see the away goal makes the difference. We didn't score one and when they did we knew we would have to score twice more, but we believed we would get the goals.’ Petr Cech
Rubin rolled over
Rubin Kazan, who had knocked out holders Atletico Madrid earlier in the tournament, were our quarter-final opponents. The first leg took place at Stamford Bridge this time, and a brace from Torres either side of a Victor Moses strike helped us take a commanding 3-1 lead to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, after Rubin’s pitch had been deemed unfit for purpose. We lost 3-2 in Russia but having gone ahead twice there were few scares on the night, and we safely advanced 5-4 on aggregate.
‘It's not just 11 players on the pitch, it's down to the squad when you are still alive in these competitions. We were able to use players who haven't been playing, and give them a chance. We were able to manage the squad and we went through. That's the main thing.’ Rafa Benitez
Basel brushed aside
The semi-final pitted us against Basel, who had knocked Tottenham out in the last eight. In the first leg in northern Switzerland, Moses bundled us in front but yet another penalty conceded, a remarkable fifth in seven Europa games, meant it looked like we’d have to settle for a draw. Then up stepped David Luiz to fire in a stoppage-time free-kick (below). Back at the Bridge we produced arguably our best performance in the competition and won a third straight home game 3-1, David Luiz with the pick of the goals.
'After being knocked out of the Champions League we wanted to play in another European final. We have shown everyone who thought we wouldn't take it seriously that we are prepared to fight for the competition.’
— Fernando Torres
The Blues became to first English team to win the Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup after beating Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam. Torres scored his sixth goal of the journey to put us ahead before the Portuguese side equalised from – you guessed it – the penalty spot. With extra-time beckoning, Branislav Ivanovic’s looping header won us the match and the trophy, sparking delirious scenes in the Dutch capital.
‘It was another incredible night for us. The minute you get into the Europa League people talk about the disappointment but when you get to a night like this it makes it all worthwhile.' Frank Lampard