Raul Rusescu struck a first-half penalty to give Steaua Bucharest a narrow advantage in their Europa League last-16 tie against Chelsea.
Rusescu struck his 23rd goal of the campaign after he was fouled by Ryan Bertrand as they competed for a cross.
Cristian Tanase narrowly missed from 20 yards for Steaua in the second half after good work by Iasmin Latovlevici.
Chelsea created few chances in a laboured performance, but Juan Mata and Marko Marin went close late on.
Steaua, who hold a 12-point lead at the top of the Romanian top division, enjoyed the greater share of what few chances there were, cheered on by a crowd that included ex-Romania captain Gheorghe Hagi, former US and French Open tennis champion Ilie Nastase and the country's Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
Hope for Rafa?
Steaua Bucharest have never won a competitive European match in England. They lost 4-1 at Liverpool on their last visit to the country, in the Europa League group stages in September 2010.
Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez, whose team face an FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United on Sunday, made five changes to the side
who defeated West Brom 1-0 in the Premier League last Saturday.
Fernando Torres replaced the ineligible Demba Ba, cup-tied after playing for Newcastle in the Europa League this season, while John Terry, Ryan Bertrand, John Obi Mikel and Yossi Benayoun also came in, with Victor Moses and Ramires left at home, and Ashley Cole and Mata dropping down to the bench.
Chelsea weathered a spell of early Steaua pressure without too much difficulty, with the home side restricted to one long-range effort from Alexandru Chipciu in the opening half-an-hour.
The European champions struggled to create many early openings themselves, though, as they were restricted largely to threatening from set-pieces in a frustrating first half, during which a number of their players were targeted by a laser pen directed at them from the crowd.
They went behind in the 34th minute, when Bertrand was judged to have fouled Rusescu as they challenged for Latovlevici's superb left-wing cross.
Rusescu, Romanian domestic football's leading scorer, picked himself up to strike the resulting penalty low and hard into the corner, although keeper Petr Cech got a hand to it.
Chelsea's away-day blues
Chelsea have managed just four wins in their last 13 away ties in Europe.
Chelsea began to apply a greater degree of pressure after going behind, with Eden Hazard setting up Benayoun for a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, which Steaua keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu got down to push aside.
Tatarusanu was alert again moments later to beat away a snapshot from Torres, but the keeper was otherwise untroubled in the opening 45 minutes.
The impressive Latovlevici continued to cause problems as an attacking left-back in the second half, delivering a cross that Chelsea struggled to clear before Chipciu set up Tanase to drive a low shot wide from 20 yards.
In contrast, Chelsea remained uninspired even after Mata came on to replace Benayoun in the 64th minute.
Hazard had a half-chance with just over 15 minutes to go, firing over from a tight angle when Torres nodded the ball into his path.
Marin almost snatched a late equaliser after coming on as a substitute, cutting in from the left to hit a low right-foot shot that Tatarusanu pushed out at the near post, while David Luiz hit a free-kick just over.
But Benitez's side could not score, and have work to do at Stamford Bridge to turn the tie around in the second leg next Thursday.
Live text and stats
Thursday, 7 March 2013
- Steaua Buch't 55%
- Chelsea 45%
Attempts on target
- Steaua Buch't 2
- Chelsea 3
Attempts off target
- Steaua Buch't 5
- Chelsea 5
- Steaua Buch't 4
- Chelsea 5
- Steaua Buch't 12
- Chelsea 6
- Final Result
- Full Time
- 90:00+4:30 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
- 90:00+3:13 Florin Gardos takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Bertrand.
- 90:00+2:16 Adrian Popa has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
- 90:00+1:10 Outswinging corner taken by Alexandru Bourceanu from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Frank Lampard.
- 90:00+1:10 Substitution Florin Gardos on for Raul Rusescu.
- 89:53 John Terry gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ciprian Tatarusanu. Direct free kick taken by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
- 89:12 Unfair challenge on Marko Marin by Cornel Rapa results in a free kick. Ryan Bertrand takes the direct free kick.
- 88:42 Frank Lampard has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide left of the goal.
- 87:32 The referee gives a free kick against Raul Rusescu for handball. Direct free kick taken by John Terry.
- 86:56 Centre by Iasmin Latovlevici, Petr Cech makes a comfortable save.
- 85:44 The assistant referee flags for offside against Fernando Torres. Vlad Chiriches restarts play with the free kick.
- 82:58 Unfair challenge on David Luiz by Iasmin Latovlevici results in a free kick. Shot comes in from David Luiz from the free kick.
- 82:26 Marko Marin takes a shot. Save by Ciprian Tatarusanu. Corner taken by Marko Marin from the left by-line played to the near
- 80:48 Direct free kick taken by Lukas Szukala.
- 80:48 Substitution Leandro Tatu joins the action as a substitute, replacing Cristian Tanase.
- 80:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Mikel on Raul Rusescu.
- 80:00 Cornel Rapa takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.
- Correction - 76:39 The official flags Marko Marin offside. Vlad Chiriches takes the indirect free kick.
- 76:39 Marko Marin is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
- 74:28 Substitution Marko Marin is brought on as a substitute for Eden Hazard.
- 73:27 Eden Hazard produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.
- 70:57 Fernando Torres sends in a cross.
- 67:12 Alexandru Chipciu is ruled offside. Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.
- 65:42 Alexandru Bourceanu takes the free kick.
- 65:42 Booking Mikel receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
- 65:40 Mikel challenges Andrei Prepelita unfairly and gives away a free kick.
- 63:54 Substitution Juan Mata joins the action as a substitute, replacing Yossi Benayoun.
- 61:11 Cristian Tanase has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
- 60:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Raul Rusescu on John Terry. Direct free kick taken by Frank Lampard.
- 57:07 Substitution Andrei Prepelita on for Mihai Pintilii.
- 54:59 Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Cristian Tanase goes wide of the left-hand post.
- 53:59 Adrian Popa challenges Ryan Bertrand unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.
- 52:48 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mihai Pintilii by Fernando Torres. Mihai Pintilii takes the direct free kick.
- 51:40 Centre by Iasmin Latovlevici.
- 50:48 Centre by Eden Hazard, save by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
- 49:24 Frank Lampard restarts play with the free kick.
- 49:24 Booking Mihai Pintilii booked for unsporting behaviour.
- 49:23 Foul by Mihai Pintilii on John Terry, free kick awarded.
- 46:23 Mihai Pintilii concedes a free kick for a foul on Emboaba Oscar. Emboaba Oscar restarts play with the free kick.
- 45:01 The second half begins.
- Half Time
- 45:00+0:09 The ref blows to end the first period.
- 41:49 Corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard to the near post, Cristian Tanase manages to make a clearance.
- 41:36 Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
- 40:07 Free kick awarded for a foul by Cristian Tanase on Mikel. David Luiz restarts play with the free kick.
- 38:59 Cristian Tanase has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.
- 37:57 Yossi Benayoun takes a shot. Fantastic save by Ciprian Tatarusanu. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from
the left by-line, Fernando Torres produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.
- 33:48 GOAL - Raul Rusescu:Steaua Bucharest 1 - 0 Chelsea Placed penalty scored by Raul Rusescu. Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 Chelsea.
- 33:00 Booking Ryan Bertrand goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
- 32:50 Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on Raul Rusescu by Ryan Bertrand.
- 31:23 Corner taken by Frank Lampard played to the near post, clearance made by Raul Rusescu.
- 28:47 The referee gives a free kick against Ryan Bertrand for handball. Adrian Popa takes the free kick.
- 25:58 Foul by Cristian Tanase on Branislav Ivanovic, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by David Luiz.
- 24:17 Unfair challenge on Ryan Bertrand by Adrian Popa results in a free kick. David Luiz takes the free kick.
- 23:25 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic has a headed effort at goal from close
in which goes wide right of the target.
- 21:56 Iasmin Latovlevici concedes a free kick for a foul on Fernando Torres. Free kick crossed right-footed by Frank Lampard from
right wing, Lukas Szukala manages to make a clearance.
- 19:56 Foul by Adrian Popa on David Luiz, free kick awarded. Frank Lampard delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from
- 12:23 Outswinging corner taken by Alexandru Bourceanu from the left by-line.
- 8:17 Unfair challenge on Raul Rusescu by David Luiz results in a free kick. Alexandru Bourceanu takes the free kick.
- 7:50 Adrian Popa concedes a free kick for a foul on Ryan Bertrand. Ryan Bertrand takes the free kick.
- 5:46 Alexandru Bourceanu takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Ryan Bertrand.
- 4:11 Right-footed shot by Alexandru Chipciu missed to the left of the target.
- 0:35 Alexandru Bourceanu takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Frank Lampard.
- 0:00 The referee gets the game started.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.