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Thursday, March 18, 2010

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Coming through: CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda holds off Sevilla's Diego Capel (left) and Didier Zokora on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

Honda powers CSKA; Inter ousts Chelsea

LONDON (AP) Inter Milan eliminated Chelsea 1-0 to squeeze into the Champions League quarterfinals after a four-year absence, while CSKA Moscow made it for the first time at Sevilla's expense on Tuesday.

Samuel Eto'o, who also handed Chelsea its last home defeat in the Champions League four years ago, scored with 12 minutes left to give Inter a 1-0 win and end Chelsea's 21-match unbeaten streak at home in the tournament.

While Inter advanced 3-1 over two matches, CSKA won 2-1 at Sevilla to go through 3-2 on aggregate.

Tomas Necid put CSKA ahead in the 39th minute, beating goalkeeper Andres Palop, but Diego Perotti equalized two minutes later. Keisuke Honda got the final goal in the 55th when Palop punched his long free kick into the net.

But Chelsea's efforts to win European club soccer's top trophy go on.

The English Premier League club lost two semifinals under Jose Mourinho, lost a penalty shootout in the 2008 final and was beaten in a contentious semifinal by last season's eventual winner Barcelona.

"This is the story of this club and this is the story of these players, so this is a demonstration of history," Mourinho said on his return as Inter manager. "I'm not saying Inter is better. I'm saying today Inter was much better.

"Today I was the enemy and today the enemy won."

Mourinho's players frustrated his former team's efforts to get the single goal it needed to advance and Eto'o completed the Italian club's progress when he beat offside to finish Wesley Sneijder's floated free kick with a low shot past goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba was sent off with three minutes left for stamping on Thiago Motta's foot after the Inter midfielder bundled into him in the area with a challenge that could have yielded a penalty.

"Sometimes you win because something happened, something made the ball go from one side to the other or something," Mourinho said. "Sometimes you win because you are the best team from the first minute to the last minute. And that was Inter, my team.

"Yesterday I exchanged a few SMS with John Terry and I told him, 'Tomorrow someone will be sad, but that's life.' "

The Stamford Bridge crowd sang Mourinho's name on his first return since leaving the club in 2007 and jeered him at the end.

But while Inter's substitutes and support staff leaped to the touchline to greet the players as they celebrated the goal, Mourinho ushered them back and picked up a match program hurled onto the field by an angry fan.

At Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Sevilla had slightly more possession but struggled to create chances as it and CSKA looked cagey.

Palop had to rush out to beat Honda to the ball in the fifth. The midfielder had an even better chance in the 27th, when he shot from just inside the area straight at the 'keeper, before following up on the rebound and firing just wide.

But once CSKA was ahead, it looked comfortable protecting the lead as the clock ticked down.

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