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Tough for English teams

Tottenham suffered a fright before sneaking past Inter Milan to reach the Europa League quarter-finals as they, Chelsea and Newcastle restored national pride following England’s Champions League misery.


Tottenham players celebrate a crucial away goal against Inter Milan during their Europa League clash at the San Siro on Thursday. Pics/AFP.

Fernando Torres struck the winner as Chelsea then joined their London rivals in the last eight after eliminating Steaua Bucharest whilst Papiss Cisse scored with the last touch of the match, a header, to send Newcastle through as well.

With Manchester United and Arsenal beaten at the last 16 stage of Europe’s premier club competition, it was left to the Europa League participants to maintain English interest in European football this season. And although they lost 4-1 on the night, Spurs went through on away goals thanks to last week’s 3-0 success at home.

Inter’s Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio caused Spurs trouble from the off. It was little surprise when they took the lead as Palacio crossed for Cassano to head home. Spurs needed just one away goal but instead conceded another on 52 minutes as Palacio ran backline onto Esteban Cambiasso’s through ball before calmly beating Brad Friedel.

With just a quarter of an hour remaining, Cassano’s weak and seemingly innocuous free-kick took a couple of deflections, the last off William Gallas’ thigh, before trickling into the net. But in extra-time Inter soon cracked as Samir Handanovic couldn’t hold Mousa Dembele’s stinging strike with Emmanuel Adebayor poking home the rebound for a crucial away goal. Ricardo Alvarez headed in a fourth for Inter from Cassano’s cross late but Spurs scraped through.

For Chelsea, Juan Mata gave them the lead. They had lost the first leg in Romania 0-1 and when Vlad Chiriches scored an away goal before half-time, Chelsea needed two more to go through. Captain John Terry made it 2-1 before Torres added the all important third.

Newcastle and Anzhi Makhachkala played 180 minutes without scoring a goal but deep into injury time Senegal forward Cisse headed home a Sylvan Marveaux cross with time as good as up to send the English team through.

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