Steaua Bucuresti vs. Chelsea: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Well, that wasn't the way Chelsea wanted to open the Europa League Round of 16.
Steaua Bucuresti handled the visiting English power, winning the first leg of this Europa League matchup, 1-0.
The Blues will have some work to do when these teams play again next Thursday in London.
Chelsea never seemed to find a rhythm in this game, while Steaua Bucuresti was positive throughout, playing organized football and executing its game plan to perfection (even if the team often looked a bit befuddled once it hit the final third).
So it was hardly surprising when it was Steaua Bucuresti that would open the scoring in the 33rd minute.
After Ryan Bertrand was given a yellow card for pulling down Raul Rusescu as the striker attempted a header in the box, Rusescu smashed home the penalty past Petr Cech, who guessed correctly but wasn't quick enough to make the save.
A few minutes later, Yossi Benayoun would be denied a great opportunity at the top of the box, as his shot was deflected just wide by keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Despite Chelsea holding the first-half advantage in shots, four to two, it was Steaua Bucuresti that held 54 percent of possession and generally looked the better side. Only after the goal did Chelsea seem to come into the game.
The game opened up a bit more in the second half, with both teams looking to push forward on the attack. Marko Marin would have Chelsea's best chance in the second half in the 82nd minute, cutting in on goal from the left of the box and ripping a shot that Tatarusanu would turn aside.
A minute later, Chelsea would earn a free kick from about 40 yards out, but David Luiz would send a powerful shot over the bar.
Fernando Torres, Chelsea: C-
One of the conversations in this game, both at halftime and during the broadcast, was about whether or not Torres was the right type of player to fit Chelsea's current one-striker formation. Torres is often asked to hold up play, but his real strength as a forward is taking on players in space.
It was an apt conversation in this match, as Torres just never really got going. As usual his movement was solid, but he didn't have many positive scoring chances, and he once again looked lost trying to hold up the play. Chelsea's system is all about putting players like Juan Mata and Eden Hazard into space, but it is coming at the expense of Torres.
Ciprian Tatarusanu, Steaua Bucuresti: A
In a game where Steaua Bucuresti had few standouts but the entire lineup generally played a very solid game, it was the keeper who stood out.
Bucuresti made several very nice saves to preserve the clean sheet, turning away three shots on goal. Chelsea certainly kept the pressure on him, especially in the second half, but Bucuresti stood tall in the face of eight Chelsea shots and five corners.
The Entire Chelsea Team: C
Yes, I singled out Torres because he looked particularly lost at times in this one. But honestly, trying to pick out individuals for Chelsea, either for good or bad reasons, is so difficult after this game because the entire team just played so, well, blah.
That's the word I kept thinking about while I watched this game: Blah. Blah, blah, blah.
They weren't awful. They were certainly far from good. There wasn't an energized feel to the team, but they didn't loaf about the pitch or anything. No, for 90 minutes Chelsea was just, well, not very good.
There wasn't a bright spot for the team. There wasn't a moment where you would say, "Oi, the Blues were unlucky there," unless you thought the penalty awarded to Steaua Bucuresti was harsh.
Chelsea showed up at the stadium, but they never quite showed up to play. They didn't play well as a unit, they didn't play well as individuals, and this performance was uninspired across the board.
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