Fernando Torres played the role of hero and villain as Chelsea produced a sterling second half comeback to defeat Steaua Bucharest and progress to the Europa League quarterfinal at Stamford Bridge.
Juan Mata set last season's Champions League winners on their way after good interplay with Ramires, but Vlad Chiriches captailised on a mistake by Petr Cech to grab a crucial away goal before the break.
But Rafa Benitez's side produced resolve akin to the FA Cup comeback against Manchester United on Sunday, as first captain John Terry headed home before Torres provided the crucial intervention to score just his third goal of 2013 and send Chelsea through.
The ex-Liverpool forward could have made it comfortable but he struck the bar from an 87th minute penalty after Eden Hazard was tripped but it mattered not.
Seeking to join Tottenham Hotspur in the last eight, Benitez gave a rare start to the trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, while Steaua, closing in on the domestic title at home, were unchanged from the first leg in Romania.
And in the early going they looked likely to add to their lead from the first leg, given to them by Raul Rusescu's penalty, and 24 year old almost doubled the advantage, but Cech turned his shot round the post.
Ramires' tendency to go forward in the opening exchanges allowed Steaua plenty of space in front of The Blues' back four and Alexandru Bourceanu almost took advantage, curling wide before Cech gathered from Cristian Tanase's speculative shot.
The hosts were in need of some inspiration and while John Obi Mikel almost leveled in the tie with a curling effort, which brought the best out of Ciprian Tatarusanu, Chelsea's lacklustre display continued.
But they did level on aggregate after the half hour when Mata played a one-two with Ramires, with the Spaniard turning on a sixpence before firing past Tatarusanu, who dived at the playmaker's feet, but could only deflect the ball agonisingly over the line as Steaua's lead was wipped out.
However, the illustrious visitors, winners of the old European Cup in 1986, grabbed a crucial away goal on the stroke of half time as Bourceanu's corner wasn't cleared and Chiriches stabbed home from close range.
Requiring two second half goals to prevent the ignominy of exiting a second European competition in one season, Chelsea quickly hit the front and on the hour mark halved the deficit as Terry headed home Mata's free-kick.
Hazard almost provided a third but his volley was saved by Tatarusanu, before Alexandru Chipciu reminded the European champions of their defensive vulnerability, as he forced Cech into palming his effort away.
The Premier League side continued to go forward in waves, and eventually got their third 19 minutes from the end as Mata's thread ball was dummied by Hazard, allowing Torres to turn and slide into the corner.
Oscar and Torres himself could have made the lead more handsome, the latter skiing a late penalty after a foul on Hazard, but despite the introduction of Leandro Tatu, Steaua couldn't take advantage of their good fortune as Chelsea edged into the quarter finals.