Steaua set up Chelsea meeting
Ajax dumped out on penalties
Last Updated: February 21, 2013 11:01pm
Battle: Steaua ensured the clash went all the way to penalties
Steaua Bucharest dumped Dutch giants Ajax out in a 4-2 UEFA Europa League penalty shootout to set up a last-16 clash with Chelsea.
Ajax had won the first leg 2-0 but Iasmin Latovlevici's excellent first-half goal put Steaua ahead on the night and Vlad Chiriches struck from long range to force extra time.
It was no less than the Romanian side deserved and following a goalless extra-time period, Latovlevici netted the winning penalty after Lasse Schone and Niklas Moisander had missed for Ajax.
Ajax's Christian Eriksen thrashed an early free-kick over the bar and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's close-range effort was crucially blocked by Florin Gardos.
Steaua did not threaten in the opening half-hour but were then handed a first sight of goal when Ajax keeper Kenneth Vermeer handled a back-pass. The Eredivisie side put all 11 players on the goal line for the free-kick seven yards out and it was striker Sigthorsson who blocked Raul Rusescu's shot.
But the breakthrough came five minutes later when Latovlevici controlled Chiriches' long diagonal pass on his chest and neatly lifted the ball over the onrushing Vermeer, who stayed down in pain after a collision which also involved full-back Ricardo van Rhijn.
There were no further attempts on goal until 10 minutes after half-time, when Steaua's Cristian Tanase fired wide from long range.
Viktor Fischer responded in kind but Steaua went close to an equaliser in the tie when Adrian Popa volleyed against the post from 20 yards.
Montenegro forward Stefan Nikolic was sent on in place of Tanase with 25 minutes remaining in which for the hosts to level matters.
Chiriches volleyed wide soon after but was not to be denied, arrowing a 20-yard shot into the top corner to make it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate.
That finally awoke Ajax from their slumber and Moisander headed one Eriksen corner against a post before the next fell to substitute Derk Boerrigter, who was denied by keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
They could not find a way through, though, and with nothing to match the late drama provided by Chelsea's Eden Hazard against Sparta Prague the tie went to extra time
Vermeer held Latovlevici's drive in the first extra period and there was no addition to the score as the game headed for spot-kicks.
Eriksen scored Ajax's first but Tatarusanu saved from substitute Schone and Nikolic added to Rusescu's successful effort to put Steaua 2-1 up.
Siem de Jong and Lucian Filip were both successful but defender Moisander blazed over before Latovlevici settled the tie.
Thu 21st Feb - Round of 32
Rubin0 - 1A Madrid
Cluj0 - 3Inter
Metalist0 - 1Newcastle
Genk0 - 2Stuttgart
Dnipro1 - 1Basel
Lazio2 - 0M'gladbach
Lyon1 - 1Tottenham
Fenerbahce1 - 0BATE Borisov
Olympiakos0 - 1Levante
Liverpool3 - 1Zenit
Bordeaux1 - 0Dynamo Kiev
Benfica2 - 1Leverkusen
S Bucuresti2 - 0Ajax
Hannover1 - 1A Mak'kala
Plzen2 - 0Napoli
Chelsea1 - 1Sp Prague
Europa League Group A
|3||BSC Young Boys Bern||6||10|
Europa League Group B
|1||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||13|
Europa League Group C
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Europa League Group E
|1||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||11|
Europa League Group F
Europa League Group G
|3||Videoton FC Fehervar||6||6|
Europa League Group H
Europa League Group I
|4||Hapoel Kiryat Shmona||6||2|
Europa League Group J
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Europa League Group L