After Chelsea managed to find an away goal very early on, this quarterfinal was never really in doubt. Fernando Torres got on the end of a lumped ball from Frank Lampard, and his beautiful chip pretty much ended the tie before it ever had a chance to get interesting.
Rubin got one back early in the second half, but it was too little, too late for Kazan. Victor Moses assured that there was no sort of real drama, basically putting the tie to bed with over half an hour to go. Rubin tacked on a pair of relatively meaningless goals to win the day, but needed another pair in order to oust Chelsea from the competition.
- It seems as if Rafa Benitez has finally gotten the memo, and adjusted his rotation policy to prioritize the Premier League and FA Cup over Europa. I'm still not thrilled that we're not seeing Marko Marin used in these type of games, but this is a vast improvement from the way he was handling the squad a month ago.
- I don't know who was doing this game for Fox Soccer 2 Go, but he continually mistook Nathan Ake for David Luiz. It was fairly amusing.
- I think the sample size is getting large enough to say that Fernando Torres has found a vein of good form. His opening goal was just a sensational finish, and he's making loads of excellent runs of late. Better late then never I suppose, now let's just hope he can continue this until the end of the season.
- I thought Nathan Ake had a pretty nice game on the whole. His passing was a little questionable at times, but he read the game pretty well and made a number of good defensive plays. That said, his inability to deal with a poor header of the ball like Karadeniz on the second Rubin Kazan goal is one of the biggest reasons I feel that Ake is destined to play in the midfield going forward. He's also clearly not suited to be played higher up the pitch at this point, as he was after John Obi Mikel came on in the second half.
- Rafabot looks like he may have actually changed the formation today. We looked to be playing a 4-3-3 with Ake serving as the lone holder, freeing up Ramires and Frank Lampard to go forward at will. It's about time.
- I continue to be baffled by the substitutions Rafa makes. While taking Ramires off midway through the second half makes a lot of sense, why bring John Obi Mikel on and force Nathan Ake to play so far up the pitch while essentially leading by 4 goals? Why bring Oscar on for Yossi Benayoun in a game in which we are 2 goals clear with about 10 minutes left to play? There's this guy named Marin on the bench that would be perfect for eating meaningless minutes like those...use him!
- While I'm not too upset that we only had to travel to Moscow as opposed to Kazan, it really is a bit disappointing that Rubin didn't get the opportunity to play us in their own stadium.